We had a great showing of both town council candidates and assorted folks from the community come to the Leonard Brown House for the start of a local tour around key destinations in Portsmouth.
Here are the answers from the questionnaire that was mailed to the Portsmouth Town Council candidates a few weeks ago!!
Portsmouth Town Council Candidate Questionnaire -2012
The answers are posted in the order that they were received, due back by October 18th.
Question 1) Do you support the Aquidneck Land Trust’s proposal to conserve and enhance the Glen, and do you believe residents should be given a chance to vote on this proposal by April 30, 2013 the deadline set by the Town Council?
Answers from the candidates:
Allen J. Shers - The Glen is the jewel of Portsmouth. It should be preserved for recreation and open space. I am in closed meetings regarding the ALT proposal with the town and cannot discuss ongoing negotiations nor render an opinion. Answers received on 10/3/12.
Joseph W. Robicheau- YES. Answers received on 10/3/12.
Robert W. Church- YES. I support a proposal by the trust with the best interest for the people of Portsmouth. The residents of Portsmouth should vote on any decision. Answers received on 10/5/12.
David M. Gleason- YES. Absolutely, I have endorsed a conservation easement for the Glen properties for some time now and had hoped that the question would have been on the ballot this November with wording…”approval subject to mutually agreeable contract language.” Answers received on 10/6/12.
John F. Blaess- YES. I do endorse working with the ALT proposal. That being said, with the property in question being at least 150 acres, with waterfront property ,and the voters in town purchasing the Glen years back for around 6 million dollars, the ALT offer of 1 million needs to be discussed. The property at St. Mary’s was purchased by ALT for 3 million dollars and that was for 40-50 acres, not on the water. Answers received on 10/9/12.
Paul S. Kesson- YES. Answers received on 10/9/12.
Federick W. Faerber III- YES. Qualified, In principle I support the Aquidneck Land Trust proposal but I am concerned that their offer is not high enough for the lands value. I am also concerned that easement restricitions may be too strict. However, I strongly support open space. Answers received on 10/11/12.
Michael A. Buddemeyer- YES. I do support ALT proposal as I support all of their efforts. I am in favor of preserving open space throughout Portsmouth. I would, however like to make sure that the town is making the best decision and assure the proposal includes a fair market price for this property. Answers received on 10/11/12.
Elizabeth A. Pedro- YES. Currently the Town Administrator is working with others on the proposal which I believe the voters need to review so they can make an informed decision. Answers received on 10/11/12.
Judith J. Staven- YES I also feel that the public needs to be well informed as to the ins and outs of the proposal. We are working on that now. Answers received on 10/15/12.
Mary Donohue Magee- YES The Glen must remain as open space and Elmhurst School needs to be demolished. It was proactive of the ALT to offer to help offset the demolition. The town needs to analyze the details of the proposal and share it with the community for their concurrence. Answers received on 10/15/12.
Keith Hamilton- Yes, I support the effort to preserve the Glen with the generous offer from the Aquidneck Island Land Trust and look forward to closing this deal next year. The entire Glen property is one of Portsmouth’s many jewels and need to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Answers received on 10/17/12.
James A. Seveney- Yes. This could be a good deal for the town. Looking forward to negotiating the terms of the deal so we can present the voters a fully articulated proposal. Answers received on 10/19/12.
Leonard B. Katzman- Yes. I am proud to state that during my 2 terms on the town council, from 2004 to 2008, I voted in favor of every open space proposal presented to the council by the ALT. Every. Single. One. I also voted to place a question on the ballot for a $2 million bond for the purpose of preserving open space ‐‐ and then actively worked for its passage by handing out informational flyers at the transfer station and attending community events. The result was that the bond passed by a double‐digit margin. I will match my commitment to preservation of open space against any other council candidate. My record speaks for itself. Answers received on 10/19/12.
Question 2) Do you believe that agriculture is an important part of Portsmouth in terms of providing local businesses, producing fresh foods, affording beautiful scenic vistas that distinguish Portsmouth and make it a desirable place to live, work and visit, limiting the amount of residential subdivisions that cause costly community service demands for the Town, serving as a direct link to the Town’s history, and other community benefits?
Answers from the candidates:
Shers- YES. Portsmouth is known for its scenic vistas. Residential single family is a net tax loss. Manuel Escobar and I are good friends from which I have developed more respect from the farmer. There must be a balanced focus respecting those features that make Portsmouth so special.
Church- YES. The Agriculture we see today has helped make this town the beautiful place it is. Every step should be made to preserve what we have!
Gleason- YES, I believe that Portsmouth’s farming heritage should be embraced and promoted as much as possible. I would like to see a Portsmouth Farmers Market, potentially at Glen Farm.
Blaess- YES. No brainer, big supporter.
Paul S. Kesson- YES.
Faerber- YES, of course I support local agriculture and my campaign literature prominently mentions this in the sense that I want to “protect and maintain Portsmouth’s rural charm”.
Buddemeyer- YES. I am in complete agreement farms are a vital part of Portsmouth’s heritage and must remain viable. Farms are less costly to the town and the residential proliferation must be slowed.
Pedro- Yes, all of the above. I might add that much of Portsmouth’s history is one of agriculture. Many Dutch farmers settled here to grow the nurseries because they recognized that we have such a unique climate and rich soil.
McGee- YES. Agriculture is an important part of Portsmouth’s past, present and future. It is our heritage which we must preserve and celebrate.
Hamilton- Yes. Portsmouth was built on farming and that tradition needs to continue. As the world’s population continues to grow and weigh on our food supply it becomes even more important that we maintain local areas to grow food.
James A. Seveney- Yes. Retaining our agricultural heritage is essential for practical reasons, like self-sufficiency, as well cultural and environmental reasons.
Leonard B. Katzman- Yes. Absolutely! Preserve Portsmouth’s framing of this question so beautifully of thriving agriculture to our community that there is little more I can add.
Question 3) Do you support the Big Box regulations implemented in March of 2008 which state that no single retailer can build a big box store larger than 45,000 square feet? (Clements is approx. 31,500 sq.ft.)
Answers from the candidates:
Shers- YES. This regulation addresses the desire of the town to have a more village concept design.
As the longest member serving member of the Design Review Board in the town we have made long positive design stride towards this goal.
Church- YES. Big Box Stores do not belong in Portsmouth
Gleason- YES. I think that a 45,000 square foot building is the maximum size our citizens could live with, but plenty in size for any Big Box chain that might consider Portsmouth.
Blaess- YES. Any industry we could get into town is a plus, but not larger than the above.
Paul S. Kesson- YES.
Faerber- YES. I support this in the context of supporting Portsmouth’s rural character.
Buddemeyer- YES. Portsmouth is a special place because of efforts such as this. Without these safeguards Portsmouth would no longer be a desirable community.
Pedro- YES. However, I think the limit should be a little less than that. Clement’s is a big building. I believe that at the meeting in March 2008, 35,000 square feet was proposed.
Staven- Yes, but I think 45,000 square feet is too big.
Magee- Yes. I support the Bog Box regulations implemented in March of 2008.
Hamilton- Yes, but I would have rather seen the ordinance implemented in the overall Comprehensive Community Plan rather than just an individual item. As open space becomes more and more scarce it becomes more and more imperative to have a complete and updated plan.
James A. Seveney- Yes. Not at all interested in following the path other towns have. Ig Box business gives us the headaches, and the state gets all the revenue.
Leonard B. Katzman- Yes. I sat on the council in 2007‐08 during the time that Target had its sights on Portsmouth. I helped see to it that the anti‐big‐box zoning regulations were properly researched and drafted so as to be enforceable, and then voted in favor of them, making them now the law in Portsmouth. I hope to serve on the council again and I ask for your vote ‐‐ yet if it should turn out that I never serve on the council again I will consider the actions I took to keep out Target and protect Portsmouth from big box development to be one of my most important accomplishments. Imagine what a changed community we would now be if Target had prevailed. I’m grateful for the efforts of Preserve Portsmouth during that time and that we were all successful.
Question 4) Do you support an effort to locate points of public access to the shore, and to have those
points clearly marked?
Answers from the candidates:
Shers- YES. Claudette has been instrumental on this issue. We live on an Island with a shore line second to none. It is a travesty not to have proper public access to the shore.
Church- YES. We are slowly losing the rights of public.
Gleason- YES. Definitely, and especially to preserve those that are being encroached upon by abutting property owners. I am currently working to preserve one in particular but know of several more.
Blaess- YES. No brainer, we need to clearly mark these points, I believe that some are still unmarked.
Paul S. Kesson- YES
Faerber- YES, Absolutely, but this is also, I believe, Federal Law.
Buddemeyer- YES. I fully support public access to the shore. This is another feature that contributes to Portsmouth Charm. If we lose this we lose a part of what Portsmouth special.
Pedro- YES. This has always been an important issue in my family. I am liaison to the Conservation Committee, which is active in this effort. In fact, a right of way was dedicated in my father’s way in 2008:
Pedro’s Cove Right of Way.
Staven- YES. I have been and always will be an active advocate for locating and preserving our Right of Ways to the shore. There are many ROW’s that have been encroached upon by the abutters. We need to return them to public use.
McGee- YES I do support the initiative to locate points of public access to the shore and mark them. This would be a great effort and perhaps one that could be accomplished as part of the Portsmouth 375th birthday celebration.
Keith Hamilton- Yes, access to the shore is mandated by state law. We have many, many access points but we need to work with CRMC to make sure they are properly marked and maintained.
James A. Seveney- Yes. We need to keep continued pressure on CRMC, the state designated agent for shoreline access, to do their job.
Leonard B. Katzman- Yes, and such an effort is long overdue.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to answer your questions. If any Portsmouth resident has any other questions relating to my run for Town Council, I’m happy to answer directly. I can be reached by telephone at 401‐683‐5000 or by email address at Leonard.Katzman@gmail.com. Again, thank you for this opportunity to address the concerns of Preserve Portsmouth. I hope you will consider voting for me and supporting my like‐minded Democratic Party Slate candidates for Town Council. Don’t forget to vote on November 6th!