Blogs | Marcia Green

The Back Story: National Grid snared by Cumberland regs

The National Grid engineer and attorney who waited until 11:20 p.m. weren’t amused, I’m sure, but their petition to the Town Council last Wednesday was unusual.

It seems that Cumberland prohibits barbed-wire fencing except in industrial or agricultural areas with Town Council “authorization.” Who knew?

Their plans for a new high-voltage substation within the Highland Corporate Park included seven feet of chain link fence topped by a foot of barbed wire.

Councilors, puzzled by the request, weren’t arguing, just trying to understand.

President Jim Higgins asked if they routinely must appear before other town and city councils with the same request.

“This is the first we’ve ever come across this actually,” said lawyer George Watson.

“Is this the same as the substation on Staples Road?” asked the Councilor Bill Murray.

“Very similar,” was the reply.

Said Murray, “I thought there was barbed wire on that one.”

There is, Watson agreed.

“So what are we discussing? You already put barbed wire up.”

The vote was swift and the gentlemen made a quick exit, permit in hand.


I thought it would be interesting to regularly look back 10 years in The Valley Breeze. Remember those days when the economy was booming?

Well, not everything was so going so well then. It’s hard to imagine now, but in August of 2003, then-School Supt. Joseph Nasif Jr. was starting off the new school year a tad short in the leadership category.

Imagine this: still unfilled by the first day of school were principals for four schools - Cumberland High School, North Cumberland Middle, McLaughlin in Cumberland Hill and

Community. Also missing as an assistant principal at North.

By the way, there were 5,347 enrolled by that first day of school. That’s 889 more than Supt. Phil Thornton was expecting this week.


The state’s Planning Division statisticians are suggesting Cumberland is destined to grow by some 4,570 residents by the year 2040, based on the 2010 census number of 33,506.

Here’s what’s interesting: Overall, the state will increase by 17,500 people in the next 27 years and more than 25 percent of those newcomers will settle in Cumberland.

In terms of sheer numbers, only Providence and South Kingstown are expected to increase more than Cumberland. Many will decline and other communities will grow by 1,000 to 2,000, according to estimates. Woonsocket will lose some 6,400, the report predicts, and drop to 34,750.

The central finding of this report is that, based on demographic trends, “Rhode Island will continue to have very low or negative population growth through 2020 due to negative net migration, and then the state will return to higher rates of net migration and population growth through the 2030s, at which point the growing number of older residents will again cause decline in the state’s population.”

The full report is available at

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