2017-06-01 / Opinion

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Zoning Burdens Homeowners

To the Editor:

Without first reading the headline, I was expecting that Bob Rulli's article in the May 18 edition of Newport This Week about changes to the Zoning Board requirements would describe long-overdue improvements. Alas, such was not the case. The "headaches" to which he referred are in addition to the already migraine-inducing hurdles facing anyone who petitions for a variance in Newport. In light of the postponement of over a dozen new requests at a recent Zoning Board meeting, it is clear something has to be done to improve the process. This new requirement that places the burden of contacting neighbors onto the homeowner fails to do this.

To streamline the process and offset some of the homeowner's burden, why not consider the following:

. Require that complaints be communicated to the board well before the meeting.

. Require that neighbors first approach the homeowner before addressing the board to discuss concerns and ask questions.

. Verify that complaining neighbors have a legitimate right to offer objections.

. Verify that complaints are actually within the board's purview and homeowner's responsibility.

Lest one think these suggestions are extreme, they are based on our own experience when we requested a variance for an addition to our 100-year-old house. We were "blindsided" by complaints, despite our efforts to reach out to neighbors in letters we sent personally and requests for face-to-face meetings. These objections were frivolous and masked an underlying agenda that the board certainly couldn't have known, but nonetheless took up an inordinate amount of time that meant other requests were postponed for a month and ours was denied.

Reluctantly, we made changes to a plan we had spent three years working on, resulting in additional landscaping, architectural and legal fees in order to obtain eventual approval.

The board's attempts to standardize and enforce zoning regulations in our city are necessary; however, the enormous discrepancy in lot coverage of the buildings in Newport is evidence that there is no real "standard." Newport has the greatest variety of architectural styles, building materials and construction techniques imaginable. I have received at least five Zoning Board letters in recent years and would never presume to place my preferences over the rights of the homeowners to do what they wanted with their own property.

Investment in homes should be supported, not thwarted by a process that places a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of those whose only distinction is that they were here first.

Sheila Ryndak
Newport

Why I’m Voting for David Allard

To the Editor:

I first met Dave when he was my Spanish teacher. Mr. Allard was a tough teacher. He pushed me to do my best in class, but he also encouraged me to find my passions outside of the classroom and to follow them. At the end of high school, Mr. Allard ended up being my favorite teacher.

One thing I’ve found is that for too many people, including too many of my friends who grew up with me in Newport, the good, year-round jobs are harder and harder to find in Newport. They have to move away for work, or can’t start on their career paths.

So when Dave told me that he was running for State Senate and asked for my support, I had one question: “Is your campaign going to be about jobs?” Dave told me that bringing and keeping jobs in Newport was one of the central themes of his campaign. Just like Dave did when he was my teacher, he set out clear goals: attract new businesses, promote the jobs in the North End and find ways for people to live and work in Jamestown and Newport.

I’ve been friends with Dave since he was my teacher in high school, and so I know when he sets his mind to something, he does it. I’m voting for Dave for State Senate on July 18, and I want to encourage you to do the same. Go to the website, email him, call him or look forward to meeting him as he is out walking the streets and knocking on doors in the neighborhoods. Chances are you’ll see me there too!

Brigid Behan
Newport

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