Under the leadership of the current administration the City of Charlestown is pursuing a seemingly unprecedented land grab. In addition to the purchase of approximately eleven properties fronting Market Street between Main and High Streets for the original Renaissance Project, yesterday Mayor Hall and the Redevelopment Commission agreed to begin the purchase process for an additional 10 acres involving multiple properties fronting Highway 62 and bordering Harrison and Madison Streets (see map for possible impacted properties). This new massive purchase has been named “Renaissance II.” The administration is determined to remake the image of Charlestown according to an imagined utopia and is sacrificing free market enterprise and private property rights in the process.
Two of the major properties in this most recent purchase announcement have previously had buyers including a private individual who wanted to build apartments at one, and a private company that wanted to install a candle factory in the other. Unfortunately, rather than allow the free market to operate unimpeded, Mayor Bob Hall’s restrictive zoning rules and refusal to allow variances have cost the community important tax revenue.
Instead of allowing the free market to bring growth to Charlestown, the Mayor has removed all of these high tax-base properties from the tax roles entirely!
This is an alarming hypocrisy considering Mayor Hall’s argument against purchasing the Kid One building on the square for the police station based on the fact that doing so would remove the property from the tax base and have a negative effect on the city (see notes from that meeting HERE: Council Meeting 08/06/2018).
Perhaps more alarming than the city purchasing property from willing sellers is their use of eminent domain to steal property from us. Although Mayor Hall has previously said that he wasn’t going to use eminent domain, documents filed in the County Courthouse on July 16, 2018 show that the city has begun the acquisition process of having 58 acres behind Ridge Road in Pleasant Ridge condemned for eminent domain proceedings. Why does the Mayor want these properties? For a park. He has wanted them for a very long time. See the minutes from a Redevelopment Commission Meeting on October 19, 2009 where Bob imagines a ski resort, lake, and cabins in the spot:
In addition to using eminent domain to taking this land for a “park,” city attorney Michael Gillenwater announced at Monday’s Board of Public Works meeting that the city is also beginning the same process to take three lots behind Clark Road in Pleasant Ridge so that John Neace can complete the road access from 403 onto the hill for his planned development. (See notes from that meeting HERE – Board of Public Works 08/06/2018).
I am not opposed to growth. I am not opposed to new businesses in town. I have become extremely alarmed, however, at the methods used in the name of “redevelopment.”
Questions to consider:
- Why is the administration removing important tax revenue and expecting us to make up the difference?
- What source provides funding for these purchases? Bonds? TIF districts?
- How will you feel playing in a park or skiing down a hill on land that was stollen from your neighbor?
- When will the administration take care of those who are here NOW instead of planning for a new population in the future?
Dance with the folks who brought you, Mayor….take care of Charlestown First.
58 Acre eminent domain acquisition document here: doc02913420180716155603