Last night I went to the Zoning Board hearing on the CPSH. I got there at 6:00, and watched 5 people go before the board for variances. (One was for Regal Reptile, a cool pet shop that wants to move to Pawtucket. I have been to their Providence location a bunch of times, and the owner does shows for elementary schools and this past summer gave a demo on a campground that my sister was visiting. Hopefully they will get approval)
But I was not there for the zoning variances, I was there for the hearing to repeal a zoning decision for CSHP. Unfortunately that hearing was moved to last on the docket. I wanted to testify (since I am a Pawtucket resident I hoped it would help) but I left a little after 10:00 p.m.. I got to watch the beginning of the hearing, and the main argument from the city official was the Grant building was not zoned for education. The official agreed that there were people in this “multi-use” building that were doing education, like the Chess Club, and said he had fined them. I had to wonder, as a resident of Pawtucket, why are we trying to fine and or close down businesses that are keeping the downtown area open? Downtown has been a ghost town for years, is it really prudent to fine a chess club and not allow the opening of CSPH? Is Pawtucket that anti-education they can’t even see a commercial or even a taxable value to these businesses?
It was obvious that CSPH was targeted for what they were teaching…Sex. The zoning official was very upset that he was portrayed as using the zoning codes to keep out a business that he disagrees with. It was also obvious that the board was using zoning codes to keep out this business out. Repeatedly the official said this has nothing to do with sex, but I wonder how many businesses that go for a license have the zoning board call the police? (Police were testifying as I left). This particular zone allows counseling and reproductive centers, but officials say that they will not allow for education.
I wonder, as a tax payer, how much this war on semantics is going to cost me? Steve Brown of the ACLU was there, and it is obvious that if the board does not allow for this Center to open, a lengthy legal battle will begin.
This whole battle began when Donna Hughes sent an email to the members of Pawtucket’s city council. Donna Hughes is anti-sex (mostly anti-heterosexual sex, you can draw your own conclusions on that). It is sad that one woman’s radical agenda is costing the tax payers money to fight this in court, and she doesn’t even live in Pawtucket. For a brief moment I thought she would show up to the hearing, but she didn’t. It looks like she might be basking in the glory of passing a prostitution law (albeit so far unenforced prostitution law), and leaving the mess she caused to unfold at it’s own pace and direction. I guess it doesn’t really matter if she was there or not, I am sure she will have to testify if and when this goes to court. I wonder if Hughes thinks it was worth it? I guess this is one of those “cutting off the nose to spite your face” deals. Who is this really hurting? I know the publicity that the CSPH has received is probably worth the aggravation. There were many media outlets there last night; tv, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers, you can’t pay for publicity like that!
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Great reporting. If it were not for Regal Reptiles testimony I might have lapsed into a coma.
Update: The Reptile store is approved (just no alligator sales) yoga is approved, heck, everything is approved except for The CSPH. We were out of there by 715. Short night!
Megan, Are you going to pursue this any further?
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