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My Opinion on The Briggs' Farm issue

Briggs' farm development - why we should approve it.

I don't speak for the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee even though I'm a member, but I do think that we need to look at the Briggs' farm issue as a major economic turning point for Portsmouth. 

Do we want to be a community that is business friendly or not? I'm not saying that we give developers anything they want, but I do think that we need to accept the need for some business development in town.

It comes down to tax revenues. If we say no to businesses or development then either our taxes will go up (although they are already one of the lowest among Rhode Island towns) and/or our services will drop below the dangerous levels they are already at.

Read Bob Gilstein's comments in Sunday's Newport Daily News - it comes down to bringing businesses in or raising taxes.

As much as I don't care to see a "big box" store in town, if a developer needs one to make a cluster of other stores viable, then the Briggs' property would be a good place to put it. Such a development would be off the highway (West Main Road), provide jobs, opportunities for small businesses to make money and a place in Portsmouth for all of us to shop.

Without it, it will remain an open field, providing zero revenues in taxes. The people who bought houses next to the area should have looked at the zoning for the open area they seem to care so much about.

Would they rather have a light industry manufacturing plant or a shopping mall? Either one would work for me.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

J. Lane McMahon January 31, 2012 at 03:42 PM
East side, The hardware store was a failure for mutiple reasons. Having been a customer there on several occasions, I would say price was the biggest reason..Why pay 40% more when I can drive 10 minutes to Depot. As to King's Grant, this development was scaled down because the developer could not attract more stores. That is, there was no draw. This is a very common problem with retail development, a cluster of small stores does not bring in people. Same problem with the DD plaza. No destination business. I have literally gone all over the US and seen what works and what doesn't. As an example, on West Main road, in Middletown, you have a plaza with B&N, EMS, Petco, and Michael's. All of these stores are considered secondary. As was the Linen's, which now stands empty. Retail plaza's of this type have died all over the US. Now, about my crystal ball. Do you drive past the ClockTower plaza? Have you noted the number of cars? The typical mall concept that you refer to has been dead for a long time, it was winding down as far back as the completion of Emerald Square. Plaza style has become the new flavor. This town has a problem of wanting it all. You don't want taxes to go up, yet you continue to encourage unchecked residential growth, and stop all commercial development. And the members of out TC are clueless.
TAMORI January 31, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Is anyone listening to Dave Hart? When he moved there that area was zoned for residential. Now someone wants to change it. I can understand his dismay. Who among you would want the zoning around your residence changed for such a project? If we keep changing the zoning people will leave town for fear of that happening to them. Home values will drop. Is that a good situation for the town?
J. Lane McMahon January 31, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Hey I feel sorry for them. I really do. But the fact of the matter is, the entire property was zoned LI...a portion of it was changed about 5 years ago (spot zoning, that never should have happend) to allow the owners to cash in on the high value of residential property at the time. Now, everyone wants to compound the problem and "protect" the Hart family, while throwing the rest of the taxbase under the bus. I will remember all these arguements when the Town Center issue comes up again in a few months. If we can't have it in your backyard, then why should it be in mine? Are you all going to protect me? 3 years ago, the town's answer was no...because Town Center was for the common good.
East side January 31, 2012 at 05:47 PM
J. Lane - I disagree that the mall concept is the one true solution. It's based on what the business end product delivers. Build it (what people want) and they shall come...The clock tower does have parking spaces but this is not an indicator of what is happening $ wise inside those businesses. I also feel bad for the Hart's but they bought a house in a location with commercial activity and possibilities.
Ray Berberick February 02, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I am collecting ideas and information for the PEDC on ways to generate revenue for the town that is mutually beneficial to the taxpayers, the Preserve Portsmouth folks, the open space folks, the developers and existing business owners. We are exploring ways to promote existing businesses and attract new businesses that will complement the ones that are here. Some entities that could be useful to the town would be a hotel, bowling alley, banquet facility, and a multi-purpose function facility. One example to consider would be South County Commons. We are also looking at ways to attract businesses to complement King's Grant. Please visit the PEDC website at http://www.portsmouthriedc.com/Revenue.html to send us your suggestions and ideas.

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