Election season is upon us. It’s time for the spin.
A recent letter to the Editor regarding the Conservation Development Ordinance attacked candidates endorsed by Charlestown Residents United (CRU) as being against protecting the environment, which could not be further from the truth. That letter failed to include one of the fundamental differences between the candidates endorsed by CRU and the group the writer supports, the CCA. The difference is, CRU endorsed candidates actually listen and consider the concerns of our fellow residents. The CRU-endorsed candidates support conservation, not confiscation of land.
During the public hearing on the ordinance, the Council listened to testimony from both those in favor of the ordinance and those opposed. Clearly, all those who spoke care deeply about Charlestown and being environmentally responsible. Where opinions diverged was in the language of the proposed ordinance.
During the public hearings, many property owners, not “moneyed developers,” expressed their concerns with the new ordinance. These are our neighbors that have been good stewards of their land and are now being vilified because they opposed this ordinance.
The author of that letter erroneously stated that Councilor Grace Klinger and I put “at risk Charlestown’s environmental protections and benefiting outside speculators over Charlestown’s residents.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. For over 30 years, Charlestown had a Residential Cluster Subdivision Ordinance which protected the environment by providing for “permanent preservation of open space, particularly large contiguous areas within the site proposed for development, or linked to offsite protected areas; and to locate development on sites best suited for development, while avoiding land which is ecologically, agriculturally or historically important.”
Councilor Klinger and I voted in favor of an amendment that would have addressed the concerns of those opposed to the Conservation Development Ordinance; the CCA-backed councilors voted against it. It would have kept the existing Cluster Subdivision language and added the Conservation Development option for the property owner, not “moneyed developers” to decide which option worked best for them.
To be clear, the vote in favor of this ordinance was not a vote to protect the environment versus not protecting the environment. The environment was already being protected.
There is a difference between the candidates endorsed by CRU and those endorsed by the CCA. CRU candidates will listen to the residents, consider concerns, and incorporate solutions. We support the conservation of land, not the confiscation of land.
Please don't be fooled by one-sided reporting. CRU candidates will continue to listen to all of Charlestown’s residents, continue to protect our environment, and continue to protect the rights of property owners.
I respectfully ask for your vote and ask you to please consider voting for Grace Klinger, Lorna Persson, Rippy Serra, and Stephen Stokes for Town Council; Patricia Stamps and Gabrielle Godino for Planning Commission; and Charlie Beck for Town Moderator.
Charlestown Town Council President and candidate for Town Council
This article appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on September 26,2022.