October 21, 2020

Mayor DaSilva responds to Amore Metacomet Plan, sees Eminent Domain as last resort

writes letters to Amore and Marshall today

Posted

East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva has responded to State Representative Gregg Amore’s House Resolution urging the City to purchase Metacomet by eminent domain. Amore has proposed a municipal bond that may be supplemented through RIDEM grants, federal aid, various conservation organizations’ support and the forming of the Metacomet Conservancy Land Trust. “I also believe that a crowd funding campaign to support the purchase and preservation of this green space would have broad appeal to everyone from school children to environmentalists, here in East Providence and well beyond,” said Amore in unveiling his proposal. Amore has written letters to Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline and Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Audubon Society, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Sierra Club of Rhode Island to ask for their assistance in his funding plan. Senator Val Lawson will introduce similar legislation on the Senate side.

Today, Mayor DaSilva released a press statement and has written letters to Amore and Lianne Marshall of Marshall properties. The Mayor’s statement was released by his office and stated in part; “Mayor Bob DaSilva is working with East Providence's legal team to explore all options available to the City regarding the Metacomet Country Club property. The developers (Marshall Properties Inc.) and country club owners have reportedly entered into a purchase and sale agreement and are in the process of finalizing the sale of the property. In light of Marshall's most recent land development plan of little-to-no buffers, zero public access, zero dedicated public space, expansive parking, paving and curb cuts throughout the surrounding neighborhood, Mayor DaSilva has been exploring all legal options available to the City. Rep. Gregg Amore has proposed a House Resolution asking the City to take the property by eminent domain.

"I do appreciate Rep. Gregg Amore's support on this issue,” Mayor DaSilva said. “Acquiring this property would be a very expensive proposition and a burden to our taxpayers at a time when we are building and financing a state-of-the-art $189 million high school and dealing with financial uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We welcome any financial assistance from the state that Rep. Amore may be able to offer to help to fund any type of acquisition," DaSilva added. “As mayor, I would welcome the opportunity to purchase this property for residents to enjoy for generations to come. I believe eminent domain is an option that should only be used as a last resort."

In a letter to Amore, the Mayor said; “I read your press release regarding your proposed House Resolution urging the City to consider taking the Metacomet property by eminent domain. At the current time, the owners and potential developers of the project are in the process of finalizing the sale of the property… I do commend your efforts on this issue… As Mayor, I believe eminent domain should only be used as a last resort, however it remains an option. I have been dealing with this issue for many months, and welcome your comments and ideas now that the request for a zone change was withdrawn,” added DaSilva.

In his letter to developer Lianne Marshall, the Mayor writes; “When Marshall Properties first discussed redevelopment plans for Metacomet Country Club, I was open to plans that might foster responsible economic development that could provide our residents with much needed tax relief, public access to the property and dedicated green spaces. I envisioned a proposal that would fit within the fabric of the community.

While Marshall Properties sought public input and modified their original plans to incorporate buffer zones, public access and donation of public space, it is my belief that much more needed to be done. The public made it evident that they did not support the original or modified plan.

Marshall Properties has since withdrawn the petition to rezone the property thereby ending the public process and has now submitted a by right land development project - its Plan B - which would offer little-to-no buffers, zero public access, zero dedicated public space and would include expansive parking, paving and curb cuts throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

I am writing to advise you that I do not support Marshall's Plan B as proposed. I will be working with the residents of this City and other elected officials to explore the path forward for the City,” stated DaSilva.

At-Large City Councilman Bob Rodericks has submitted the request from Amore for discussion at its October 6th council meeting. “Let’s at least start the conversation and see where it leads. Time is of the essence if we are to engage in any legal initiatives regarding Metacomet,” said Rodericks. While council President Robert Britto supported Marshall’s request for a revised zoning variance, Rodericks, Nathan Cahoon, Anna Sousa and Ricardo Mourato did not support it. In the end a vote was not needed with Marshall’s variance request. The next step appears to be if and when Marshall and the Faxon Group close their purchase and sales agreement.

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