Board recommends removal of questionable language

Board recommends removal of questionable language

CUMBERLAND – After questions from a resident on wording contained in the affordable housing section of the town’s comprehensive plan, town officials on Tuesday recommended making a change.

Resident Laura Brady had drawn attention to a sentence in the section and asking what it means, said Planning and Community Development Director Jonathan Stevens. That section mentions that south of Route 295, overdevelopment, demographic shifts and other factors could impact the goal of safe and attractive neighborhoods. Brady, an African-American, wanted to know what demographic shifts might mean.

Stevens noted that it was actually a reference to gentrification and the issues that fixed-income older residents might have with overdevelopment and getting priced out of the area, but he acknowledged that the original context wasn’t readily apparent. He recommended striking the language and adding new wording.

The Town Council’s ordinance subcommittee on Tuesday recommended an ordinance amending the comprehensive plan to instead “affirm the town’s commitment to increasing affordable housing opportunities for people of all races, backgrounds and regardless of socioeconomic status.”

The change is particularly appropriate during this time of reflecting on the country’s history of not giving everyone the same opportunities, said Stevens.

Councilor Scott Schmitt said he had thought the line was referring to gentrification, or people being priced out, but after reading the concerns, the change made sense.

Councilor Lisa Beaulieu offered thanks for the refining language and says it’s more appropriate based on what the original intent of the wording was.