Oh dear, the self-anointed Grand Dame of property control and development in Charlestown, Ruth Platner, is weeping and wailing because of the Rhode Island Legislature. See her Letter to the Editor titled, “Bill led to more Charlestown development” (The Westerly Sun, April 29).
Are there any crying towels at the Charlestown Town Hall?
How dare the state pass a law that stops the Grand Dame’s power to determine how land can be used in Charlestown. Its audacity in stopping her from selectively deciding how a land owner’s property may be used has had such an emotional impact on her, it’s being said that her little puppy, Cliffy has been made to sleep outside under the porch!
The Grand Dame is chairwoman of the town’s Planning Commission, and she also runs the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, and it has majority control of the Town Council.
However, this is just one side of the two faces of Ruth Platner!
Now comes the other face. It is instructive to recall that in 2008 when the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management mandated its Waste Water Management Denitrification program, Ms. Platner never said a word to object. As a matter of fact, when the then-Town Council majority voted to oppose the state-mandated program, citing the terrible out of pocket costs to the private property owner and that it had received professional information that the systems may be unreliable, and they are, Ms. Platner and her cohorts in the CCA boiled over and launched dishonest and personal attacks on the personnel opposed to the denitrification program. She did that knowing that the denitrification systems would cost the private home owners in excess of $25,000 to $30,000 each (and it has). She also knew that their installation would open up every substandard lot in the coastal zone to development. (It did and it has.) You see, Platner knew she shouldn’t aleinate her friends at RIDEM even though it was wrong, so she abandoned the taxpayers to stand alone against this powerful state agency.
She didn’t dare to attack her friends at RIDEM in 2008, but she thinks its alright to try and make the Rhode Island General Assembly look bad for defending its “clients” against a local Grand Dame like her who costs property owners thousands of dollars in engineering fees to build a house on property they already own.
Now everyone can see the two faces of Ruth Platner, but we should be careful because she may have a hidden agenda.
Contrary to Ms. Platner’s complaints, the state legislature has done the people of Rhode Island a great service by inserting itself in the planning process and perhaps removing RIDEM from making unilateral decisions regarding private property rights.
It was RIDEM that made all of the decisions regarding the mandated dinitrification systems through the power granted them in the state’s Administrations Prodedures Act, with no oversight from the state legislature. That gave it the free reign, which cost local property owners in the coastal zone so much money.
Ms. Platner apparently views this legislative action as a first step by the state legislature for planned oversight of any decisions made through the state Administrations Procedures Act to be reviewed and approved by a joint bipartisan committee of the state legislature. That will be great, but not in the eyes of Ruth Platner, who sees it as a threat to her dictatorial control of land use in Charlestown.
The Charlestown Planning Commission is sworn in as an elected body, the only Planning Commission in the State of Rhode Island. It is also a violation of STATE LAW! State law mandates that planning commissions in Rhode Island be appointed by the elected town council, and it’s time for the town’s charter to be challenged in Superior Court!
The Grand Dame of Charlestown’s Planning Commission apparently forgets the old adage that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie.
James M. Mageau