Newport RI City Hall Broadway

Mayor and Newport City Councilors fire back: ‘Councilor Bova’s many erroneous statements denigrate her colleagues for political purposes’


Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Mayor
Lynn Underwood Ceglie, Councilor
Kathryn Leonard, Councilor

To the Editor:

We feel compelled to respond to an opinion piece penned by Councilor Jamie Bova regarding Bishop’s 4th Street Diner. It is unfortunate and heartbreaking when a long-standing business must make a difficult decision to close or move.

We are troubled by many erroneous statements made concerning the city’s role or responsibility regarding property owner Colbea Enterprises LLC’s decision to end its relationship with Bishop’s 4th Street Diner and pursue development of their own property. While Councilor Bova admits that the decision between parties is a “business decision,” she then asserts that a “majority of the council” is responsible for recent zoning code votes that allow big developers to trample on small businesses. Councilor Bova’s claim that the council could interfere in private business matters is not factual and is a political move that misleads residents.

Here are the facts:
– The property owner, Colbea filed its application for development BEFORE the new North End zoning code was enacted.
– Colbea filed its application when the land was zoned “commercial/industrial” and has the legal right under the former zoning code to pursue a Special Use Permit by the Zoning Board of Review.
– The new zoning code voted on by the entire council would prohibit development of a gas station/convenience store on that property today.
– Residents and their consultants participated in the development of North End Urban Plan and the new zoning code. The current product reflects input from the community.
– The City has no authority to interfere in private business matters.

The amendments to which Councilor Bova refers that were voted down by a majority of the Council would have had absolutely nothing to do with landlord-tenant disputes or any private business matters. It is disheartening and somewhat puzzling but not surprising that she would cast these dispersions. City staff is currently working with the property owner to bring amenities that would enhance the property such as increased landscaping, bike parking, outdoor seating, electric charging stations and greater pedestrian safety as outlined in the newly adopted North End Urban Plan.

As public officials, it is imperative that we present facts. Councilor Bova’s “us-vs-them” opinion piece only serves to divide the community, denigrate her colleagues for political purposes, and does nothing to bring opportunities and progress to the North End of our City.

Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Mayor
Lynn Underwood Ceglie, Councilor
Kathryn Leonard, Councilor

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