2007-03-22 / Letters to the Editor

Leadership is disappointing

I am writing in response to the latest finger pointing and acrimony over the Brittain development site at the end of Clinton Avenue. I have been writing my opposition to this development since 2004. Back then, the Jamestown Planning Commission had the ability and responsibility to ensure developer compliance to the island zoning and building codes. It also had within its power the opportunity to ensure the development was compatible with and supported by the Clinton Avenue community. Rather than do its job honorable and well, the Planning Commission gave the Brittain site plan quick (and dishonorable) approval. Consequently, the issue is still not settled and likely never will be. To this day, the development continues to haunt the Planning Commission and cause growing concern within the Clinton Avenue community.

I am so disappointed in the planning leadership of our town. This is the time, more than ever, to show your mettle. All of the town's residential communities are experiencing development pressures. The Planning Commission's job is to ensure development changes protect and enhance the island's exceptional character and fragile resources. The Planning Commission's job is to sustain the island's residential communities, not suck the life out of them. These officials deserve this public spectacle caused by the Brittain site (as reported in the March 1, 2007 Jamestown Press) because they created it.

Driving by the Brittain site, it is obvious that its scale does not match the scale of the community. The building setback is marginal at best and too close to the street. The structure is a barrier for local residents walking from Clinton Avenue to Holland Avenue. This was once an appreciated pedestrian path. Had the planning commissioners been attentive, they could have retained it. Still not resolved is the type and volume of traffic the site will generate. Clearly, large truck volumes through the Narragansett Avenue - Clinton Avenue intersection are undesirable and unsafe. Moreover, the Clinton Avenue community does not want Brittain's trucks running through it. This too is unacceptable and unsafe.

It is good that a certificate of occupancy has been withheld. The in-fighting and legal challenges surrounding the Brittain site will likely continue until all parties have the opportunity to communicate and settle their grievances in an open community forum. The Planning Commission should not mediate the forum. It is too crippled by bias to do an honorable job. A mediator should be assigned by the town to settle this growing rupture on Clinton Avenue. The "mediator - community forum" approach could serve as a model for the development problems that have stricken all of Jamestown's residential communities.

As for the Jamestown Planning Commission, its members should be asked to resign and a fresh crew installed. The current commissioners have done enough damage.       Valerie J. Souther Issaquah, Washington The writer owns property on Clinton Avenue.

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