2008-01-24 / Letters to the Editor

JHS clarifies position on studio

There has been much public debate lately about the application to make retail sales at the Clancy glass blowing studio at 382 North Main Rd. This case, "David M. Clancy and Jennifer R. Clancy v. Jamestown Zoning Board of Review," is currently under appeal at the Rhode Island Superior Court. As an abutter, the Jamestown Historical Society (JHS) has been involved in this debate and it is important to clarify our position, which has been widely misunderstood.

We start by unequivocally stating that this matter is not about art or artists. The historical society supports the arts and it values the contribution artists make to a vibrant and healthy community. The JHS did not object when the Zoning Board granted a variance to allow a glass blowing studio at this site three times the size permitted by the zoning ordinance. Our objection, rather, is to the establishment of a non-agricultural retail business in this historic district. The issue at hand is the appropriateness of introducing a new commercial activity into a uniquely historic, agricultural and rural landscape that, we hope, will remain as it is forever. Our concerns go beyond this particular case.

We believe that allowing retail sales of non-agricultural products threatens the integrity and viability of a long-standing community vision for the protection of the North Main Road corridor reflected in Jamestown's Comprehensive Community Plan. The commercialization of Windmill Hill is simply inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, the federal designation of Windmill Hill as a National Historic District, and the concerted efforts through the years by public and private parties to protect - at great cost - this area from development.

Our mission is to preserve Jamestown's historic heritage. The JHS supports the goals outlined in the Comprehensive Community Plan. As individuals, your below-listed neighbors ask you to look at the bigger picture, and consider the future consequences of today's actions, however well intentioned they may be. Commercialization of a historic district can have an irreversible impact that the community certainly would regret in years to come.

The Board of the Jamestown Historical Society (Rosemary Enright, Harry Wright, John Horton, Dick Allphin, Greg DiGasper, Trish Evangelista, Deb Foppert, Mary Heath, Sue Maden, Shawn Mayers, William Mullins, Ken Newman, Linnea Petersen, Sally Schott and Dennis Webster) thanks you for reading this letter, and considering this important question for the future of our island. The Jamestown Historical Society Board of Directors

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