Letter: Poor development raises taxes

Posted 5/26/22

To the editor:Development such as in the Industrial Park and housing, brewery, and restaurants in the old mills on Wood Street can be a credit to thew town and its revenues, but poorly planned …

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Letter: Poor development raises taxes


To the editor:

Development such as in the Industrial Park and housing, brewery, and restaurants in the old mills on Wood Street can be a credit to thew town and its revenues, but poorly planned developments cost in the long ruin and raise taxes. One reason for the higher costs is the ignoring of the geological and environmental hazards.

Rivers, streams, and wetlands are obvious areas to be avoided in building, but this has occurred across Bristol. Development along Tanyard Brook, Silver Creek and smaller streams has necessitated expensive remediation efforts by the Town and its residents, and will continue to do so.

Sea level rise, in combination with hurricanes, which are projected to worsen, has created serious problems for shore construction. Warren is having to buy back or remove houses in a coastal lowland. Robin Rug lies in a similar but more exposed, low area designated a “Special Flood Hazard Area” by FEMA. However, instead of removing population and buildings from harms’ way, as recommended, its planning to place over 200 tenants to face the danger of high water and storm waves in an area where serious damage has occurred in the past and will again. This exposes Bristol to many potential costs in liability, rescue, repair, and shoreline protection.

Coastal development has been encouraged by the National Flood Insurance Program of 1968 by subsidizing insurance in risky areas where it would not occur if residents were fully responsible for their own insurance. This places the lives of many in jeopardy with each passing storm. These subsidies amount to $1.5 billion annually and even when areas are shown to have a heightened risk, premiums are not raised. It is currently $20.5 billion in debt, even after approximately $16 billion of its debt was transferred to general taxpayers. The rest of Bristol will be subsidizing Robin Rug’s insurance.

In addition to the geological hazards, developments and degrade a town’s historic and aesthetic value and add to the costs of services. Do the strip malls along Metacom, described as “crapscape,” and the time lost in traffic really benefit the town? Some towns unfortunately have become mesmerized by taxes, without considering the ultimate costs and recognizing that the areas in the state with less development have lower taxes. In Southern California, developer fees are imposed to cover the additional costs to the towns, instead of providing subsidies to increase profits.

The loss of beauty to attract people to Bristol also has its cost. Think of the loss if Colt State Park was developed as the Town wanted. Think of the gain if the ugly Robin Rug was removed to reveal our wonderful harbor to attract more tourists and benefit the town and its businesses.

The subsidies, tax write-offs, services needed, harm to business and neighbors from parking, and other problems posed but Robin Rug do not make it an economic asset, not to mention the public safety issues. One way or another, it threatens to raise taxes.

Patrick Barosh, PhD Geologist
103 Aaron Ave.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.