Friday, June 22, 2007

Slow Growth on Block Island

Almost everyone on Block Island wants to see more land protected, less development, and smaller houses. At least that's what the Nature Conservancy learned when it took a public opinion poll recently. From the Block Island Times:

A telephone survey last month found that support for preserving more Block Island land as open space has grown over the past six years, from 87 percent of voters asked in a 2001 poll to a staggering 90 percent now....

Growth was a serious issue for many respondents, with 63 percent saying the island is being developed too fast, up slightly - 2 percent - from 2001. The number who think the island is being developed at a rate that is good for the community dropped slightly, from 33 percent to 30 percent.

Long-time residents of the island, people born here and those aged 51 to 60 were most likely to see a problem.

Growth, development and overcrowding are actually hurting the quality of life on the island, 70 percent of those polled agreed.

There aren't a whole lot of other details about the method of the survey, but the fact that it was conducted in mid May indicates to me that it is year-round residents who support more land protection. Almost half the island is protected from development, which is amazing.

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Blogger Sam said...

It's rather funny that Block Islands have been bemoaning development of the land since I started going there in 1970 or so. The old cottages and the renters weren't the issue, but rather the huge mansions and then even - gasp - condos!

A key to the discussion was that some of the original land-owners HAD to sell out because of estate and inheritance taxes (the property taxes are very low). To this day, many families still subdivide their own land so their children can build a house - which is the way they want it.

So wouldn't you'd think that all this conservation land would be a good thing?

That is a complex question because many of the islanders feel that (1) is prevents them from historical easements and (2) much of the conservation land is actually used as a buffer for McMansions so they don't have to have any neighbors.

The example they all cite about #2 is Billy Joel with his huge estate and ring of conservation land surrounding it. The conservation land is taxed at a lower rate similar to agricultural use. But up went the No Tresspassing signs and it became obvious that Billy Joel "conserved" the land alright - for himself!

I guess one can't please all the people all the time, but there is three kinds of conservation and one is especially a double-edged sword.

11:06 AM  

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