Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 02-06-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 OPINION FEBRUARY 6-12, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION Sand Trace: too many units in rural Smithfield Smithfield is about to undergo a major shift toward becoming a city, not a town, if its Planning Officer Michael Phillips has his way, to authorize a 78-building, 180-unit condo develop- ment at Log Road, over the Stillwater Reservoir, called The Sand Trace, using a loop- hole to do so, along with sev- eral other sites, if this Master Plan Stage is approved on March 21. We call it The Sand Bag, and here's why: Although town councilors and resi- dents alike realize the inclu- sion of Low to Moderate Income Housing (LMI) ratios are required by the state, councilors agree off the record that the proposed size of Sand Trace is a bad idea for a rural area zoned R-80. However, Smithfield's Planning Board now controls this approval process, bypass- ing our Zoning Board, and can decide whether to allow up to eight times more units than are currently allowed there now. If the 22 homes now allowed at Sand Trace were even doubled to 44, and 25 percent of those units, 11, were LMI, we'd be in com- pliance for LMI. You've seen full page ads in prior Valley Breeze issues, and it's true: The state doesn't tell each town how to provide LMI, just that it get done somehow. Why so many more units are being welcomed by this planner, in opposition to neighbor concerns, is any- one's guess. In Narragansett, Exeter, Barrington, and three other towns, LMI has been implemented in ways that are more in line with the charac- ter of their towns and com- mon sense zoning. Taxpayer alert: With our excellent school system that will be closing one elementa- ry school this year, and state- wide Pre-K on the way, we're now paying tax increases of $250 to $300 on average for the next five years – a special assessment created by pas- sage of school improvements on our three elementaries, and a new fire station. When hundreds more of Low to Moderate income housing is created for families, what will school enrollments look like in 5-10 years when thousands of these units are phased in, on top of mandatory Pre- K? What does Smithfield's Budget Board think about how this will work, and how much more extra spending is in store for us? Public safety-wise, Log Road, the primary way in and out of these 180 condos, was recently a washed-out causeway, down to one lane, a little two-lane blacktop that carries fire and emergency traffic, with no sidewalks. Sand Trace is in no way ideal or suited for this part of town. Jan. 29 rains created a complete spill from the Sand Trace site into the reservoir. Now factor in storm runoff with pet waste downhill, into our public water supply. So these roads that can't be walked, run or bicycled with- out great injury potential will need to be rebuilt as wetlands and waters rise. Smithfield seems to have accepted the bacterial mess at Slack's Pond and Georgiaville as a way of life. Are we now trying to destroy the Stillwater Reservoir? The Comprehensive Plan's introduction says the town values its water resources and quality of life, but the town's words certainly do not match its actions. Infrastructure: How will the Georgiaville water system support these hundreds more units, and will our 60-year-old pipes and systems support Sand Trace? What about water pressure? Town Council President Suzy Alba said on Jan. 22 that the council cannot review and remove this poor- ly conceived Table H-25 from our Comprehensive Plan until the fall. Why not now? That makes no sense and we challenge her to identify a provision in the law that requires such an amendment "to wait until the fall" (when, conveniently, the Sand Trace project will have already been approved). The Sand Trace needs to be completely vetted before Smithfield commits itself to becoming a city over time. Unite at tonight's hearing and stay on top of this precari- ous recklessness. Home and business owner petitions will be available for signatures at 6:30. All hands on deck! CYNTHIA & THOMAS MULVEY Smithfield In an effort to find money for the burgeoning state budget, Gov. Gina Raimondo is proposing to legalize recreational mari- juana. She projects that the state would receive $14.3 million in gross revenue by the end of fiscal year 2020 after an outlay of $3.5 mil- lion to get the business up and running. Attorney Gen. Peter Neronha is correct in raising concerns about its implementation. He notes that the proposal should require strong regulations to protect public health and safety and prevent children from accessing the drug. He is joined by the R.I. Association of Police Chiefs in urging caution, not that anyone on Smith Hill is really listening. They only see green. Ho hum! Here we go again. Rather than curb the state's appetite for rapacious spending, lead- ers will do just about any- thing to get more money to spend. Unlike alcohol, which can be detected on impaired drivers, no such "Breathalyzer" test presently exists to determine impaired driving because of the high from too much weed. Yet, despite the dubious driving which already abounds in the state, officials are ready to add potheads into the mix. No approval should be given until appropriate detection is in place, regard- less of what other states risk. Multiple studies exist that say young men's brains do not fully develop until about age 26. No mat- ter. The state isn't look- ing for Einsteins. Maybe Generation X shouldn't be too smart lest they see the flaws in government. The most annoying argu- ment is that legalized drugs will prevent black market cannabis from being pur- veyed. Hardly. Usually the state-sponsored dope costs more. Further, after a while the sub rosa market will market its bhang by scoff- ing at the "kiddie stuff " sold statewide as opposed to their designer roach which will pack a punch. Policy wise, there is some- thing disconcerting about making money off bad habits. It's no accident that the governor is advocating the tax hike from $4.25 to $4.50 per pack for cigarette smokers. Senate President Ruggerio is cheerleading the effort to allow sports betting via the internet. The state seems awash in sin taxes. Where would the state cof- fers be without addicts? In a recent Colorado study, where marijuana was legalized a few years back, almost 30 percent of the heaviest pot users comprised 87.1 percent of demand for the drug. Certainly, medical mari- juana is supportable so the real issue is the sanction on recreational pot. Earlier the concerns of Neronha were noted but it should also be pointed out that he also supports the conten- tion that the current drug and criminal justice policies are far too punitive and costly, helping to contribute to the mass incarceration of Americans. During my tenure as Attorney General, mere possession cases were routinely filed following addiction treatment. Adding to the drug culture is the epidemic of opioid abuse. Sensible steps have to be taken to deter this growing problem. It seems a little silly to add another class of drug uses as a mat- ter of public policy because we want the taxes. It's almost as if we've given up the ghost on addiction raised by the above proposals to legal- ize marijuana and extend online sports gambling in the name of raising revenue. The social costs are much higher. Negligible money is set aside now for gambling addiction. Query about how tight the purse strings will be for new addictions. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. State is addicted to addicts Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XXI, Number 28 February 6, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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