OP-ED

Walking in someone else's shoes

Posted

I walk my neighborhood each and every day.

Rain, snow, sleet, cold, heat, it doesn’t matter, I walk.

So, I appreciate a good fitting pair of shoes. I see my neighbors almost every day as I walk. They honk, wave, smile, and say hello.

Occasionally, they stop and we chat for a minute or two.

Everyone is so busy – kids, jobs, spouses, dogs, cats, cars, lawns, houses…So much to do and so little time to do it.

It’s almost impossible to get them all together in one place for any length of time. It’s like trying to herd cats. But the Planning Board Meeting on September 13 and the Zoning Board Appeal Hearing, scheduled for April 10, has accomplished just that. A sleeping giant, neighbors working together, has been awakened.

My community is galvanized and united. Not many other neighborhoods in Warwick can come together like this.

Time after time, year after year, when threatened by outside forces trying to change the very character and fabric of the Massasoit Terrace/Sand Pond Neighborhood, this community has come together and stayed together.

The current proposal to introduce a three-story storage building into our established neighborhood of well-maintained, modestly priced cape and colonial homes makes my blood pressure rise.

It’s like forcing a round peg, a new industrial building, into a square hole, our existing residential neighborhood.

Furthermore, locating an industrial occupancy in close proximity to Sand Pond, which is the glue that holds our community together and makes us unique, compounds my anxiety and frustration. Sand Pond allows neighbors and friends to fish, kayak or canoe each and every day from April through October.

Sand Pond is a small, delicate kettle pond.

The water quality is good so swimming is popular during the summer months. I am concerned that any materials that accidentally, or otherwise, flow into the pond from the area around the storage building could cause irreversible damage to this fragile ecosystem. The pond stands the chance of dying and ceasing to function as one of Warwick’s last hidden recreational gems. This risk is unwarranted and unacceptable.

Back to shoes

First, I would ask each Zoning Board Member to walk in our shoes. I assume most members of this Zoning Board reside in well-kept, single or two-family homes in middle or upper class residential neighborhoods with manicured lawn and shrubs.

Ask yourself the questions, “How would I feel if a 3-story storage building was suddenly and forcibly inserted into my established community? Would I be concerned that the storage building might negatively impact the assessed value of my home and its market price at the time of sale? Would the quality of life in my residential community be adversely affected by having a large storage building dwarf my backyard or pool?”

Secondly, I would like Zoning Board Members to walk in the shoes of Planning Board Members. I assume some of them are your friends, colleagues and/or business associates. I believe they serve the community without compensation.

Like you, Planning Board members have been selected by elected officials to serve because of their education, experience, expertise and ability to be critical, independent thinkers. They should have the full faith and confidence of the Mayor who appointed them and other pubic officials who routinely seek their approval on planning issues.

They certainly have my respect and admiration for the professional manner in which they conducted themselves at the September 2017 Planning Board Meeting. All parties were allowed to speak and present evidence at the hearing over a period of approximately three hours. “Do you really believe the allegation presented by the attorney representing the storage building developer that the Planning Board “abused its discretion” and failed to properly evaluate the applicant’s proposal in rendering a decision in September? Are you prepared to turn your back on The Planning Board?”

So please, make sure the shoe fits before you make the purchase on April 10. A poor fit is sure to inflict pain on the community that will, in all likelihood, be lasting and irreversible. Walk as you talk. Think long and hard on how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. David Bouchard and his wife Lorraine are residents of Puritan Drive.

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