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Monday, March 7, 2011

Class War in Charlestown, Part Three: Closing the Borders

As Charlestown and shoreline RI became prime places to live, those who have their places in paradise want to close the door behind them. Or as Planning Commissar Ruth Platner puts it, “preserve Charlestown’s rural character.”

Exclusionary zoning is an effective way to “preserve Charlestown’s rural character.” Set minimum house lot sizes, micro-manage what types of structures can be built and severely limit the number of building permits issued each year. Peg residential permits to classroom size in the Chariho school system. Block rental property building permits by any means necessary.

Charlestown is 96% white, household incomes exceed the state average by 24% and we have 60% less poverty.

Platner and her six CCA-chosen colleagues on the Planning Commission are the defenders of the gate, determined to make sure Charlestown stays white and wealthy.

In addition to existing ordinances, Platner has created her own criteria to ensure that no new affordable housing will be built in town. She doesn’t want any families with kids –
those kids will go to school and cost the town more in Chariho fees.

She doesn’t want renters because they don’t pay property taxes. She doesn’t want senior citizen (+55) housing because older people are more likely to own cats. Cats might run free and if they do, they might eat the birds. Her Planning Commission colleague Linda Fabre wants to give low-income residents vouchers to move to Westerly. In short, if you don’t meet Ms. Platner’s means test for worthiness, get out and stay out.
* White (definitely NOT Narragansett)
* Past child-bearing years or certified sterile
* Not so old that you are a compulsive cat lover
* Able to buy your own home at market rates
* Allergic to asphalt, vinyl and all other man-made building materials. And wind turbines.
* Out-of-state second home buyers, especially from Florida, are welcome! As long as they don’t have cats.
* And finally, no cats.

If Charlestown was in Mississippi, circa 1965, there would be a platoon of US Justice Department civil rights lawyers crawling all over town. Or maybe the ASPCA.

The Planning Commission and a majority on the Town Council want the state to change the affordable housing law so it doesn’t apply to Charlestown. This was the tack George Tremblay, one of Platner’s Planning Commission underlings, took in a Westerly Sun letter, March 5 (pay-wall protected, though CCA also sent the letter out to its list).

If you watch and listen to our CCA-controlled town officials, a picture of the ideal Charlestown resident emerges:

Author: Will Collette