Planner Stevens responds to ‘inaccurate’ comments

Planner Stevens responds to ‘inaccurate’ comments

In your July 6 edition, following the article “Cumberland proposes tougher controls on development,” a posted comment contained a number of inaccuracies. Since criticism was directed at the planning director, I would hope you would allow me to respond:

• “We have a planning director who allows builders to do whatever they want.”

This is inaccurate. Cumberland’s zoning map, established by the Town Council in 1994, governs the density (number of residential units or square feet of development) that can be built on any given lot in town.

In fact, it is the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Town Council that make decisions on what can and not be built in any town or city, not a planning director.

• The mayor “does not care about the Comprehensive Plan…”

Actually, in 2016 this administration updated the Comprehensive Plan for the first time in 13 years. The plan received an award from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association for “Outstanding Comprehensive Plan.”

• “Mayor Murray and his appointees have done a poor job of protecting our land…” What about last month’s Town purchase of Mercy Woods, protecting 229 acres from development, including 17.5 acres that will be new recreational fields for young people? Last year, at Mayor Murray’s initiative, the town also preserved Rawson Pond and surrounding land, totaling 51 acres.

Further, the administration has drafted, and Town Council adopted, an unprecedented number of conservation and management plans that will protect and enhance the following Town lands: Franklin Farm, the Monastery, Diamond Hill Park, Epheta Park and Mercy Woods. These plans have helped attract $1,345,000 in public and private grant funding.

Finally, I am pleased to report that since the original article appeared, the Planning Board unanimously adopted the proposed amendments to the land development regulations.

Jonathan Stevens

Cumberland Planning Director