Letter: Yarmouth should limit 'Character Based Code'

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Yarmouth residents: ask Town Councilors to “first, do no harm” when considering “Character Based Code.” They do listen.

Produced by a well-intentioned Yarmouth committee, the proposed Character Based Code landed on councilors’ desks with a resounding thud. A public hearing immediately followed. Comments were uniformly negative. Residents foresee the unintended consequences.

Two themes resounded. First, the “Character Based Code” would, ironically, eviscerate Yarmouth’s charming character. A unique transition now flows from its picturesque jewel of a historic, vibrant, iconic harbor up Main Street past historic homes and through a quintessential mixed-use New England village onto streets winding outward showcasing Yarmouth’s rural elements of open space, trails, woods, its breathing room.

CBC envisions suburbia, and lots of homes. Which, secondly, many recently reassessed residents decried. The Code’s increased housing density is significant. Stress from density-driven higher school enrollment and large class sizes would be painful to parents, and painful to taxpayers.

Yarmouth commercial tax revenue struggles as Wyman Station’s assessment shrinks. Residential taxes are higher than neighboring towns. New “fees” are proposed. The Character Based Code implies higher taxes from school stress, attributable to its higher residential density.

Yarmouth’s councilors should limit Character Based Code to an appropriate, compact area around Main Street, maintaining Yarmouth’s uniquely traditional character of a mixed-use village above a harbor. This will improve commercial attractiveness, upgrade housing options, increase revenue, not stress our schools, and “do no harm” to Yarmouth’s rural character.

Bill Gardiner