Citizens from across the state spoke-out vehemently in opposition to the proposed RhodeMapRI plan at a public comment hearing last evening in North Kingstown. Validating concerns expressed in the Center's written response letter, citizen after citizen, from Woonsocket to Westerly, passionately expressed their opposition to the little-known RhodeMapRI plan, developed by the Chafee administration's Division of Planning.
The major themes were general objections to concept of any massive governmental plan, especially from a federal agency like HUD, and that if implemented as have other plans nationally, that the loss of individual property rights would not be acceptable. Residents from Woonsocket and Barrington spoke about the severe problems that HUD policies have caused in their communities. The Center's CEO, Mike Stenhouse, cited problems created by similar plans across the country and in Rhode Island, and claimed that the plan is not an economic development plan, but rather an extreme social-engineering agenda, with vague goals and no specifics.
"The public simply does not want the planners to plan our lives," concluded Stenhouse.
About 100 people attended the hearing, which occasionally became contentious, with about two-thirds of the comments and 80% of the attendees apparently opposed to plan. Virtually all opponents were everyday citizens, while virtually all supporters were city or regional planners themselves or from nonprofits publicly aligned with the plan. All signs on hand were opposed.
The Center's seven page letter lists multiple economic, governance, and philosophical concerns and discusses the negative consequences of ceding the sovereignty of state and local governments to un-elected bureaucrats from a federal agency. The Center recommends Rhode Island should not become the first state to adopt such measures, especially given the lack of public debate on the topic.
The Center's letter and the hearings themselves are part of the plan's public comment period, which ends Friday.