Tiverton commits all to develop, gets nothing in return

To the editor:

On Tuesday July 7, at 7 p.m. at Tiverton High School, the Town Council will be voting on whether to approve the 64-acre, 600,000-plus square foot mega-development known as The Glen, which would be located right off Main Road next to Route 24.

The Town Council will be voting whether to make the following commitments to the developer of this huge project:

• Changing the Tiverton Comprehensive Plan in the developer’s favor;

• Changing zoning regulations and map in the developer’s favor;

• Re-zone land that is now on the National Register of Historic Places to high density mixed use for the developer;

• Allow the developer to add six new traffic lights to the small sections of the busiest roads in town (Main and Fish).

You may ask “What does the developer commit to Tiverton in return for all of these drastic changes?”

The answer is — nothing.

Yes, that’s right, in exchange for all of these permanent, town-altering concessions our town would give to the developer, the developer commits nothing, zero, to the town. Some examples:

• Full build out commitment? Nope. The 64-acre, 600,000—plus square foot development was originally supposed to be built in four phases over 10 years. Now the developer has backed out on that commitment, saying that building anything after phase 1 (the 100,000 square foot big box grocery store and a few other buildings) will be “market driven.” meaning they may be built out over 10 years, or 20 years, or not at all. In the meantime, all of the traffic lights and infrastructure would be put in at the beginning of the project.  This is a fact.

• Net tax revenue commitment? Nope.  An accurate fiscal impact study, by phase, with minimum and maximum ranges, has not yet been performed. As of now, only two very basic studies have been performed and both have been proven to contain major errors in their calculations, as is evidenced in minuted Planning Board meetings. There is absolutely no,  $0, guaranteed net tax revenue for Tiverton from this development.  This is a fact.

• Full gross tax revenues soon? Nope. Since the build out is supposed to take at least 10 years, and the developer has requested tax exemptions that delay full tax payments for six years after build out, Tiverton would not get full gross tax revenues from this mega-development for at least 16 years (in the year 2031). This is a fact.

• In order to properly perform their fiduciary responsibilities to the town, the Town Council needs a complete, detailed fiscal impact study, by development phase, using minimum and maximum ranges, to determine if this mega-development will create net tax increases or losses for Tiverton. Until this study is done, the Town Council cannot possibly make an informed decision on the full fiscal impacts this mega-development will have on the town, in both the short and long term. This is a fact.

Why is Tiverton willing to commit so many things to a developer that won’t commit anything to Tiverton in return? A developer that has had so many legal problems with other towns in Rhode Island? A developer who refuses to even disclose a single proposed tenant for their mega development?

Come and ask the Town Council at the open meeting on Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. at the High School. This is the meeting where they will be voting whether to approve the project. The only thing that will stop this mega-development is for Tiverton residents to attend and show you are against it.  This is a fact.

Bruce Hathaway

Tiverton