Letter: Work for Bristol, not a developer

Posted 5/18/22

To the editor:

We know that property developers can bend and stretch facts as they are selling their projects. We should expect that behavior. They are rewarded by improving the terms of the deal. …

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Letter: Work for Bristol, not a developer

Posted

To the editor:

We know that property developers can bend and stretch facts as they are selling their projects. We should expect that behavior. They are rewarded by improving the terms of the deal. We must be skeptical of claimed facts, and in some cases, assume an adversarial relationship. Bristol residents want that from their town officials.

We need public officials who stand up for Bristol. They must hold their own against overreaching property developers. Property development at any cost is not our goal in Bristol. We have a Master Plan and zoning ordinances to guide us. These provide our agreed development road map and communal direction.

Ignoring our long term planning gives professional developers permission to see Bristol as a theme park where money comes to play. This is not the same vision where residents raise their family, love their friends, respect their neighbors, and revere their ancestors.

Development must support our mutual vision for our future. I was disappointed to read that our town Economic Development Office may be more concerned with developer goals than Bristol goals. The Bristol Phoenix (May 5, 2022) wrote about the Yarn Mill project:

“Williamson said that a key concern to approaching the project has been finding the right balance between the density of units and what is feasible for the project to succeed.”

Developer profitability is not a concern for our town officials. Profitability is nearly impossible for the town to predict, given the information that a developer is able or likely to expose. Appropriate development, following our municipal code and our agreed town vision, is the goal of the town staff who have the responsibility to check developers’ natural capitalist instincts.

On 5/12/2022 the Bristol Planning Board approved the Yarn Mill living density above the town zoning limit. They approved reducing the number of affordable housing units below the town code mandate. And they approved reducing commercial space below the town mandate. Giveaways to make the project more profitable for the developer is not the board’s job. I could not find any Planning Board instructions on the town website to increase the profitability of a developer’s project by making concessions that are not authorized by town regulations.

Make us proud to live in our town. Another block of expensive waterfront rentals, with unseemly surface residential and for-profit parking, little commercial space, and possible traffic congestion and on-street parking contention, may disappoint us in its true economic and social impact.

Make Bristol a place where people come to live proudly and join the social fabric. We are more than a summer stay or a college dormitory. We are a community of residents who have strong traditions and want long term viability for our town. Property developer profitability is not our goal. Bristol’s continued quality of life is what we care about.

Robert Jacobus
35 Church St.

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