Newport This Week

When Less Is More


Over the past several weeks, in varying contexts, the word “moratorium” has arisen. Sometimes the word seemed to make sense, but not in every case. “Moratorium” has a harsh undertone, so we decided to look up its meaning for a better understanding. The definition of a moratorium is a waiting period set by an authority, or a suspension of activity. Synonyms include embargo, ban, prohibition, suspension, postponement, stay, stoppage, halt, freeze, standstill, respite, hiatus, delay, deferment, deferral and adjournment.

Newport and Middletown are both facing some major changes in which moratoriums could be a hot topic, as developers are knocking at their doors with plans that will significantly change the landscape.

There is a saying, “less is more,” and we ask readers to keep that in mind while considering our thoughts on possible upcoming limits, freezes or moratoriums.

Although rooms for conventions, weddings and visitors in general may be needed, the word “moratorium” has come up in talks about hotels in both municipalities. In Newport, the unveiling of plans for the former Newport Grand property has created a buzz of conversation, not only about hotel development, but also the number of restaurants and other elements that will impact the community. In Middletown, the development of the Atlantic Beach area has caused similar concerns and has been continued several times by the town’s planning and zoning boards. It is on the docket again and we will report on the outcome in the Aug. 8 edition.

As we have noted before, the city and town councils have the difficult task of being business-friendly and responsive to growth, while maintaining quality of life.

Unraveling the complex rules and nuances regarding Newport liquor licenses is addressed in Gary Ruff’s page 1 article. In the 1970s, Newport imposed a moratorium to limit liquor licenses that is now being challenged by two new hotel projects.

The freeze does not end there. Private fireworks displays are coming under scrutiny. Many residents would like to see them stop, or at least face more regulations. A workshop is scheduled and we will also report on that.

Event permits for Newport bike and road races are almost always questioned, with the belief that they need to be limited because of the impact to abutting neighbors. Limits on food trucks is yet another matter the City Council has on its plate.

Residents in the Coddington Wharf area are not only talking about a moratorium regarding the plan for a hotel where a set of restaurants now exists, but also regarding the expanded music series at King Park.

Finally, there always seems to be a moratorium on discussions about a joint high school. Others may consider the discussion halted and suspended indefinitely.

Our letter writers also have picked up on this theme. One has suggested a three-year moratorium on any non-emergency excavation following roadway resurfacing, and another on banning balloons because of the impact on marine animals.

Whatever your opinion on moratoriums, they are certain to continue to create debate and controversy as our region looks to protect the past without ignoring the future.

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