standing letters

Almost 200 years have passed since Hopkinton residents first poured on their prejudice against Prudence Crandall in her effort to help African American girls. Now the prejudice is against anything that makes an effort toward expanding our non-residential tax base.

And it's not just the latest outcries against solar projects, its everything that has tried and been thwarted by either NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) or our own sitting officials. When the timing is right around election season, development proposals have seated town councilors based only on their stance of opposition to the development proposal at hand (ie; Sharon Davis, Gary Williams, etc.). 

I can remember my late father's attempt at potentially developing a seasonal dog-racing facility at Exit 1 when Exit 1 had absolutely nothing but a blank canvas of highway commercial- and industrial-zoned property. The council president at the time promised a townwide referendum, but it never happened.

I was a member of the subcommittee to help develop our very first Comprehensive Plan and helped develop the questionnaire for residents to chime in on what they envisioned for the growth of Hopkinton. One of those questions was a desire to see commercial growth at the two exits. Ironically someone rifled through the collection of these questionnaires at the Ashaway Post Office and discarded all those that desired such development into the trash container where they were found by somebody and reported.

Several decades later a retail development came knocking, but once again, along with a major outcry from the public, a moratorium on any development enacted by the town council and a letter from the sitting council president to the developer stating, basically, "We don't want you" sent that idea packing. I bet most people don't know that the zoning ordinance, the district use tables and the Comp Plan all supported large-scale retail development at Exit 1. Look it up.

But sabotage always wins in Hopkinton. I am told that sabotage by a town official also played a role in nixing the Loves Truck Stop. I think there is court action pending on that issue still. I remember when everyone was against cell towers but now everyone who reads this has one and needs one and gripes when you lose service. If it wasn't for the federal government stepping in and taking away some of local governments' authority I bet Hopkinton would not have any cell phone service.

Now comes solar fields, when society is all for green energy, but "Not In My Backyard" please — put it somewhere else. I think the Old Depot Road site as well as the Brushy Brook site were both good candidate sites for these projects. One, I'm told, had a 700-foot buffer from the nearest residence, which pretty much puts it out of sight. And these panels don't make noise or pollution nor do they increase traffic or make school children. The Brushy Brook site is also in an area where the only ones to see it were the few who live there, who, ironically, were all for it. I guess it was the deforestation that doomed them. Somehow I believe if some millionaire wanted to raise thoroughbreds on either of these sites, no one would say boo. How lovely, horses. Even if the same number of trees needed to come down to make the horses' pasture, that would be just fine because it's horses, not solar panels.

Just over the border along Interstate 95 in North Stonington, the Lewis Farm deforested several hundred acres and I don't recall a peep from anyone over that side of the Hopkinton border. Its farming, after all, and ironically for growing corn for, most likely, ethanol. How's that for full circle. 

Prejudice, sabotage and the emotional NIMBYs will always rule in Hopkinton. Get ready for your tax increase next budget year.

Jeff Gilman

Hopkinton

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(2) comments

Lucymarty

Oh, is that right NIMBY? Mr. Gilman's point is absurd and narrowly focused. Yes Mr. Gilman, I am one of those that would have been surrounded by the Woodville/Alton project. Yes I was the one of the neighbors that already has flooding in wet years, my next door neighbor had to do $10,000 dollars of basement retrofitting to protect against flooding with trees and topsoil and some assistance in drainage. So Mr. Gilman I urge you to listen to your hundreds if not thousands of residents in this town that do not want homes purchased in residentially zoned areas have a town council with the pushing of developer's and their profiteers to march in and destroy trees, top soil and wildlife corridors. Some people always want to say how they aren't tree huggers. Well pardon my affection for trees that clean the air, offer drainage and oh don't let me forget make up the landscape to why many of us moved here in the first place instead of Providence or Warwick etc.
Nimby( Not in my Backyard Types) So let me answer it this way. Fine, I am a partial NIMBY. I do not want my property values to decline, I didn't want to have Loaders roaring in and out of my adjacent property 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for months to remove trees, rocks, loaders etc. to make all that nature flat as a pancake for those wonderful solar panels. Lets also not forget I didn't buy this house and property to live next to a manufacturing facility, which is how these are described in other court cases under judicial review.
So yes, my taxes will go up. They go up every year mostly due to a runaway school budget. If any of the costs are to be controlled we must address this now, not by destroying our land to have a few dollars and yes its a few dollars compared to the overall town budget. So I look forward to the next election where an honest assessment of what town we want will be determined by who is put on the Town Council to represent us. Will it be the old guard, many of whom do not recognize the vocal majority against this free for all development or do have Town Councilors that will do the following:
1) Follow the Comprehensive Plan to the best of their ability
2) Respect and understand the Planning Board is here for a reason and their opinion matters. I am not saying that in all cases the Boards opinion should be followed but maybe just maybe they have expertise needing to be viewed as a positive rather then interference with Town Council agendas.
3) Ensure the law is followed in relation to spot zoning and supermajority voting as it relates to current code.
4) Follow any adverse opinions handed down in the future by the Courts of Rhode Island if the current procedures are found to be misguided.
5) Question the relationship of the Town Solicitor and his relationship with the Town President and if that allegiance to one persons opinion on the council should drive his legal reasoning and if a change should be made post next election.
So that's my response. I look forward to Mr. Gilman showing up to any of our meetings or discussions. I hope neither of us are being disingenuous in our positions.

KJM

Mr. Gilman seems enamored of "development". So much so, that he seems unable to accept the counter argument that the development he favors comes with expenses many of us believe to be more deleterious than the possibility of higher taxes. Perhaps he will excuse us NIMBYs our desire to avoid the destruction of nature, noise pollution, air pollution, congestion, traffic and the not so trivial introduction of man made objects to replace the visual treat of woodlands plus associated flora and fauna. Lest I be ad hominem attacked as a "tree hugger", I am not. I am all FOR development such as cell towers where that brings greater universality with smaller footprint than truck stops and solar farms. There are many good arguments for development. Unfortunately, Mr. Gilman has not made one that is persuasive. Introducing the acronym NIMBY while amusing does nothing to produce a desire for additional discussion about what might constitute "good" development. The projects he cites as "sabotaged" DID meet their demise as a result of prejudice; but thankfully, that prejudice was for "good" development over "just any kind" of development.

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