standing Richmond Town Hall

RICHMOND — If ownership and town officials could come together to develop a tax-friendly plan for Chariho Plaza, Richmond Councilwoman Helen Sheehan believes it could lead to the development of affordable housing solutions, the increase commercial tax base and enhance the aesthetic appearance of that section of Wyoming.

It will take some effort and coordination, Sheehan admits, but she believes that if groups can find a compromise during the council’s term, it will help to relieve the tax burden on Richmond residents and address growing concerns over lack of affordable housing stock in the community.

“The state seems poised to be writing laws that may not be favorable towards us in terms of low and moderate housing, so I would like us to stay ahead of that,” she said. “If we could get together as a group to think about doing something with Chariho Plaza, we could put in a 62-plus housing facility that could take care of affordable housing numbers without increasing the number of children entering the school system.”

The concept was among several general ideas shared last week as members of the Richmond Town Council voiced their top priorities for the term. The discussion was led by Sheehan, who said she sought to get council members on the same page in an effort to promote more collaborative work among members.

Sheehan said promoting appropriate economic development through commercial expansion, addressing affordable housing without further burdening residential taxpayers and prioritizing school safety enhancements with money previously set aside for the effort were her top three goals.

“We need to put economic development first as a future means of slowing the residential tax increases,” she said.

Councilwoman Samantha Wilcox thanked Sheehan for her comments and agreed that economic development, particular commercial growth, and affordable housing were important targets for the council to keep on its radar.

Wilcox said the council should also remain focused on improving health care affordability and government transparency, which had been a top priority for members when the new council was first seated following the November elections, as her other top goals.

For Vice President Rich Nassaney, transparency and “ending the bickering” were the only goals for the coming term, aside from the obvious economic and housing needs. Nassaney expressed concern over the direction of the council in previous terms.

Earlier in the evening, the council had sought to get through a long agenda and voted 3 to 2, with Wilcox and Nassaney opposed, to move public comment to the end of the meeting and limit it to one minute — the council had postponed its meeting agenda two days earlier and continued it to Thursday. Wilcox and Nassaney were critical of the decision, which Trimmer said was made in order to assure that certain items would be addressed “so that bills can be paid.”

“It is time for us to work for the people of this town with zero party affiliations,” Nassaney said when asked about his goals. “Together we can get work done, but we need to stop the small-time bickering. I’ve got nothing more to add.”

Trimmer said he and other Republicans certainly support that goal, and finished the conversation by saying that more needs to be done to address cost of living and the impact that it is having on Richmond taxpayers.

“I think our top goals need to be affordable housing, economic development and a focus on reducing use of the residential taxpayer as a piggy bank,” he said.

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