standing Letters

I agree 100% with Jim Angelo’s viewpoint in his letter to the editor of March 25 stating that two wrongs don’t make a right. They don’t. I also congratulate Town Councilor McCuin for his defending the position of enforcing our town regulations concerning unpermitted apartments.

The notion that property owners who knowingly disregard town ordinances or those that violate building or zoning regulations should be rewarded for their actions is wrong. What incentive is there for others to abide by the rules if violators are not held accountable?

As past vice chairman of the Westerly Zoning Board of Review, I have deliberated and voted on many zoning variances and special-use permit applications. I know from years of experience on the board that board members spend many hours reviewing those applications and try to make the best decisions for the applicants, property abutters, and the town. Many hours are spent reviewing the zoning regulations as well as the impact of the Comprehensive Plan. There is also time spent visiting the property sites. Those hours of research and deliberation should not disregarded by rewarding those that ignore the town’s requirements. The special-use permits that are granted have specific limits and durations that the applicants are made aware of and agree to abide by. The rules are clear. Property owners that ignore those rules and regulations should not be rewarded for their violations. The fact that in the past the town has not enforced these specific regulations is another issue and is a direct measurement of the performance of our town government.

Now, in order to improve a housing ratio of affordable housing in our town, our town management seems to be willing to toss our enforcement rules and regulations in the Dumpster. If we are going to take that approach, why don’t we have Chief Lacey drop all the DUI charges and all the misdemeanor charges his police department racks up all summer? That way the town could demonstrate a lower statistical crime rate and possibly get better bond ratings and higher property values. And, let’s not stop there. Why not waive all the delinquent tax payments. Let’s show property owners that Westerly is a forgiving place to live. And building permits? Who needs them. Do anything you like. And that $150 parking ticket on Larkin Road? Rip ’em up! We won’t enforce anything.

Seriously, once this precedent is set, where will it stop? The Town of Westerly needs to have consistent enforcement of our zoning and building codes and regulations, not arbitrary exceptions and waivers to a selected few scofflaws.

John Ornberg


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