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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Town Charter requires a vote before Charlestown can give real estate away

"Taxpaying citizens should - and must - be given the opportunity to vote"
By Deb Carney

Editor's note: versions of this letter from former Town Council President Carney ran in the Westerly Sun and Chariho Times (no link)

On August 22, 2013 the Charlestown Town Council voted to purchase the site of the proposed Whalerock wind turbine project.  At that meeting there was discussion with seven different organizations interested in obtaining conservation easements on this property.

The taxpayers of Charlestown are now going to pay over $2.1 million for this land.  The taxpayers of Charlestown should have a say in whether we maintain complete ownership and control of this land, or whether we convey easements and interests to outside entities.

Not only should we the taxpayers be asked, the Charlestown Home Rule Charter requires it.  

Section C-14 states, “The town…may from time to time sell, lease, convey or use for any public or municipal purpose or purposes, or for any purpose whatsoever (subject to approval by vote of any Budget Public Hearing after special mention has been made and notice given of the proposal in the warrant issued for the warning of that meeting)…” 

Screen shot from the town website showing the complete section

The taxpayers of Charlestown were not given the opportunity to vote as to whether or not we wished to spend every available dollar of the open space/recreation bond money on the purchase of this single property.  

Based on the Town Charter, the taxpaying citizens of Charlestown should, and must be given the opportunity to vote as to whether or not we wish to give away any of our rights to that property.