Residents ask council to fight bill to disband Land Trust

Residents ask council to fight bill to disband Land Trust

SMITHFIELD – Many members of the community voiced their concerns over the proposed bill by State Reps. Thomas Winfield and Gregory Costantino to repeal the Smithfield Land Trust.

During a Town Council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 6, residents asked the council to create a resolution at the next meeting strongly opposing the bill, and to ask the legislature to withdraw it.

Michael Iannotti, of 97 Swan Road, read a prepared speech and said the purpose of the Land Trust is to preserve open space and protect wetlands forever.

“The enactment of this legislation to abolish the Land Trust would represent an egregious breach of trust with donors who sacrifice profits for land conservation, donors such as Mary Mowry who bequeathed her home and land,” he said. “A breach of trust with voters who approved the $5 million bond issue, a breach of trust of the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time and energy to the maintenance of these properties, and a breach of trust of residents who expect a lot more from their government institutions.”

Donald Burns, 98 Stillwater Road, and chairman of the Conservation Commission, said the commission worked hard to start the Land Trust 20 years ago, knowing it was the best way to get public support and tie up conservation land.

“I think this is something that really Smithfield should be proud that we have be able to achieve, 1,000 acres under control, people using all the trails,” he said. “All these things I think the people really want in town.”

Council member Suzy Alba said she’d like to invite Land Trust representatives to come to the next council meeting.

Conservation Commission member Peter Pare, 16 Cider Lane, claimed the legislation is a result of developers in town looking for land to build on. He said he hopes the council will be aware of that, and work to keep the Land Trust.

In other business, the council extended the liquor license renewal deadline for Rocco’s Pub and Grub, 55 Douglas Pike, despite being two months overdue.

Rocco Quattrocchio will have until Feb. 28 to submit applications and pay fees to the town.

Council President Paul Santucci pointed out to Quattrocchi that all other businesses were able to meet the Dec. 1 deadline for renewal, and multiple attempts were made to contact Quattrocchio before having a hearing.

Quattrocchio said he had most of the required documents ready, including paid taxes, but is waiting for a letter of good standing from the Division of Taxation.

“I’m confident I can get this done in two weeks,” he said.

Council members said supporting local business is a top priority, and would Quattrocchio have enough time to come up with the remaining documents.

Later in the evening, the council approved a measure entering litigation against pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors. The litigation will have no cost to the town, and could potentially bring funds into Smithfield for opioid education, training, and prevention according to Town Manager Randy Rossi. He said Smithfield joins 22 other Rhode Island communities in the lawsuit.