I sent this letter to the Town Council regarding last night’s Town Council meeting (8/7/17). I’d like to say that to have certain discussions that do not involve the departments responsible to me was inappropriate.
As a member of the Zoning Board, I am wondering why a couple of members of the Town Council are looking at the parking situation downtown and didn’t invite or solicit advice from the planning or assistant planning director or the zoning official? They are well aware of the parking issues and the fact that most restaurants have, as part of their use variance, a requirement to show that they had adequate parking for their patrons and staff. In other words, each restaurant had to show where they had secured parking, whether they were using a valet or not. There are many documented discussions regarding parking downtown. To have that discussion in council while no members of the planning/zoning staff were asked for their opinions or recommendations was irresponsible. Furthermore, there has been discussion at both the Zoning Board and Planning Board levels that East Greenwich has probably hit the maximum number of restaurants it can handle for its downtown area that allows for safety and quality of life for Hill & Harbor residents and non-restaurant businesses.
The discussion regarding HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] and affordable housing is also something the Planning Department should have weighed in on. Both the Planning Department and the local director of CDBG [Community Development Block Grants] could have easily explained how the requirements work and how much monies are allocated and how. Other then Ms. Corrigan’s opinion, we had no healthy discussion of how CDBG works and how it became $300,000 in the hole. I believe that both HUD and the state audit the account. I am not aware that CDBG was under investigation. Recently the Town Council passed an affordable housing resolution. Members should be aware, therefore, that there is requirement for each town to reach a goal of 15 percent affordable housing otherwise the state could allow affordable housing developments without input from the town. It’s in our best interest to keep CDBG to continue to receive those grants especially since East Greenwich has still a way to go in order to reach that 15 percent goal.
I did receive several sincerely nice replies promptly from Andy Deutsch, Sue Cienki and Sean Todd. My reply is the same, that the Town Council and the Town Manager’s office need to involve Planning/Zoning officials during parking discussions. I think that if they worked together they’d get a fuller history of the parking and how to deal with it going forward. I also think that Town Council needs to limit to the restaurants they currently have and be more conscious of the people and non-restaurant businesses in the Hill&Harbour area.