PUTNEY — Let me first say that I speak for myself and do not claim to represent anyone other than myself. I am a property owner on Main Street in Putney and as such have a financial as well as personal interest in Putney and in any projects concerning Putney.
I do not know, in the long term, if the proposed Windham-Windsor Housing Trust housing project will be good for the town or bad for it, as I am no prophet. I do know that once the project housing is built there will be no opportunity to undo it in case it has negative and undesirable consequences for Putney.
For the people who are opposed to the project or who seek further clarification about the project, there is a legal appeal to the zoning permit, and they have every right to pursue that appeal.
I support the appeal, as I do believe there are some errors and omissions in the permit application and that the housing project will burden the town with safety, traffic, and infrastructure issues that it is not equipped to handle.
The free speech of all citizens should be encouraged, as open discourse is the cornerstone of our Republic. In fact, we should honor and encourage the appeal process, as it gives ordinary citizens an additional check on actions that may be detrimental to the environment or to their community.
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It saddens me that Lissa Papazian, who proclaims how much she cares about the businesses and people of Putney, does not support or validate those same people's right to pursue all avenues available to them in opposition to a project they view to be ill-advised and improperly formed.
Serious issues concerning the WWHT housing project will be addressed in the appeal, and they should be heard in an unbiased court.
Ms. Papazian's main argument seems to be that we need more people in Putney to support our local and sometimes struggling businesses. I did not think that the purpose of affordable housing was to provide consumers for local vendors, but perhaps I am missing something.
Whether we can agree on that sentiment or not, it is doubtful that folks in an affordable housing project will be the ones who end up “saving” Putney businesses. The most logical scenario is that the new residents of the project would do the majority of their shopping in Brattleboro and Keene - or online along with the rest of us.
If the constant stream of traffic that races up and down Route 5 already cannot provide sufficient customers for Putney businesses, then I really don't see how the creation of project housing will solve that problem.
What will revitalize Putney's business community is the creation of attractive and interesting businesses that offer customers from here and beyond products or services of interest at prices that are in line with their expectations and means in a beautiful and scenic place.
So it is everywhere.
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Ms. Papazian's other argument is that those in opposition are just a bunch of NIMBYs. It is so easy to toss out a label, isn't it?
I am in opposition because I do not think Putney is the right location for another housing project, period. It is not close to the goods and services that will be needed by the project's residents and will simply add to the already congested traffic of Route 5 and Alice Holway Drive.
Finally, I take issue with Ms. Papazian resorting to the rather Trumpian tactic of demeaning those in opposition to the housing project by writing, “I, for one, will not be voting for anyone wielding a pitchfork.”
Am I wrong to assume, Ms. Papazian, that you are using the word “pitchfork” as a pejorative label for those who disagree with you?
Let me turn the sentiment around a bit, if I may.
A pitchfork is a tool for getting work done, typically on a farm or in a garden, in order to facilitate the growing of life-supporting crops or livestock. To me, the owner of a pitchfork represents one who is honest, hard-working, and unafraid to take on the difficult, sometimes tedious (dare I say unpopular), tasks of life.
A pitchfork might well represent one who is independent and self-sufficient.
Pitchforks can also be used to protect life and property, and on many historical occasions they have turned the tide in skirmishes where small villages were being threatened by marauding bands of brigands and plunderers.
I like the imagery of villagers with pitchforks and will embrace the pitchfork as a symbol of strength.
I think you used the word to express your disgust with those who disagree with you and to imply that somehow I and other like-minded individuals are uneducated, backwards-thinking, rural hayseeds.
Let me assure you that you are wrong.
I for one am simply exercising my freedom of speech and legal right to appeal a project that I do not feel is suitable for Putney and may indeed bring negative consequences to it if brought to fruition.
With respect to all involved and in the interest of a peaceful and acceptable future for Putney, I remain hopeful that a suitable resolution will occur that is in the best interest of all Putney residents and taxpayers.