The following is my Letter to the Editor on the current process concerning Tiverton Glen. These are my personal views and not those of Tiverton 1st, which has not taken a position on this issue.
The proposed Tiverton Glen development presents a number of concerns for many, especially those who value Tiverton's small-town nature. More troubling is the process attempting to circumvent the town's defining Comprehensive Plan to permit this specific development.
The facts are clear. Tiverton Glen is a 60-plus-acre development that indisputably runs counter to the Town's Comp Plan and current zoning laws. The Planning Board is charged with determining if a planned development conforms to the current zoning and Comp Plan.
By this standard, the Planning Board should reject Tiverton Glen as being in violation of current zoning and counter to the Comp Plan. Some on the Planning Board seem intent on ignoring this to give “conditional approval” to this development. The conditions? That the Town Council create a huge loophole in the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate this type of development.
Rather than make the development fit the town, the developers are trying to make the town change to fit the development. They seek to bypass the very committee charged with reviewing the Comp Plan and essentially be made exempt from many of the Comp Plan’s provisions, to build the type of big-box retail stores the town has repeatedly rejected.
The Planning Board could put the town in legal jeopardy by making decisions based not on the law as it stands, but on changes beyond its control. There is a legal deadline to make a decision on this plan, and the only responsible course is to reject this plan as clearly not in keeping with current law. They are then free to suggest that the Town Council make the Comp Plan and zoning changes necessary to permit this type of development.
Some are attempting to use financial concerns to convince us that we are in desperate straits and must be willing to sell out the very small-town character that many of us see as Tiverton’s greatest asset. Recently-opened new businesses that adhere to our Comp Plan show that we can broaden our commercial tax-base without surrendering our very nature to mega-developments that ultimately cause more harm than good.
Hopefully, our appointed Planning Board recognizes that legal decisions should be based on the law as it stands, not wishful thinking. If they fail to do so, it will fall to our Town Council to decide what our town’s character is worth, and demonstrate to those who elected them that they put the well-being of the people of Tiverton before that of developers.