Be Fair, And Nothing More
To the Editor:
I applaud The Newtown Bee for publishing an editorial on the subject of the controversy surrounding the future of the Inn at Newtown. I support what I believe is the overriding message of the editors — that our town should be open minded and listen to the owner’s plan(s). However, I am uncertain about that position since I am a little troubled by the tone of the piece.
The editorial refers to the “dilapidated” inn — a “visual blight” on our Main Street. It then suggests that the “community owes an equal willingness to listen … or present a feasible alternative appealing to a broad population.” I am interested to know what the editors believe the owners of the property owe the community. You are silent on that. They seem to be getting a pat on the back for apparently reconsidering what was an absurd proposal for 40 apartments.
I’d like to point out that the poor condition of the structure is the result of a decision on the part of the owners to allow the property to deteriorate. This would be understandable if it was a question of a lack of financial resources. That is apparently not the case here — The Bee published a letter from one of the owners in which they claimed that they had invested a half-million dollars on legal and architectural fees in support of an apartment complex which is completely at odds with the zoning for the property. If they had chosen to spend a fraction of that sum on maintaining the property, we would not be discussing the “blight” on Main Street.
Your editorial then reels off a series of options for the future of the property: Is it 20 or ten or five condominiums, etc. Why did you start with 20 apartments? It seems to be because the owners proposed an outlandish 40. What if they had proposed a four-story apartment building with 100 apartments? Would The Bee be spitballing a more “reasonable” option of 50?
My point is that we all need to realize that we are being played. The condition of the property and the 40-unit proposal are tactics in a longer game. The community should be smart about this, because we are the only ones that care about our Main Street. The suggestion that we taxpayer-residents owe the owners a solution which may damage the center of our town in order to maximize their wealth is way off base. We should listen. We should be fair. Nothing more. If the owners want to spend their money on litigation to overturn the zoning regulations (in place when they purchased the property) we should counter it to protect our beautiful town.
24 Juniper Road, Newtown January 28, 2020