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Newport Mayor Jamie Bova has provided the following statement regarding the proposed moratorium that Newport City Council is considering in the mixed-use innovation district.
Many would agree that Newport is in a period of development and growth not seen in a very long time. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is debated, but it is imperative that the City Council and City Administration take a hold of that development and ensure that we are growing sustainably and in the right direction. In order to do that, there have been calls for a moratorium. I myself voted to continue the conversation surrounding a moratorium and see what an ordinance enacting it would look like for Newport.
We need to have ordinances and zoning in place that reflect the goals of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. It should have already been accomplished, but between turnover in our planning department and a lack of understanding of our timeline, it was not. I am not entirely convinced that a moratorium is the best path to accomplish our goals. Many of the products are already in place that would allow us to enact zoning regulation that is reflective of our desired end state for the city – and especially the North End area that we are looking to turn into a Mixed Use, Innovation zoning district. It should not require the six-month window suggested in the resolution passed on Wednesday. I have confidence that our Planning Department is capable of delivering what is needed for the city to be effective in shaping development and will make this task a priority.
A moratorium is a blunt instrument. If not carefully developed it could end up causing harm. Newport’s Planning Department has the capability to take the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Mixed Use process guidelines from our consultant, and work with our Planning Board to bring a set of draft ordinances to the City Council. It is something that can and must be done in short order. In the meantime – whether a moratorium is enacted or not – discussions and negotiations must be had with community stakeholders, including residents and developers, to work together on what is best for Newport. We need sustainable and thoughtful growth and that will take dedication and engagement from all sides.