We Want Your Questions About General Stanton Inn Referendum

General Stanton Inn Question Fails – Regular Budget Passes

What: Town Financial Referendum
When: Monday, June 6, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Where: Charlestown Town Hall
Why: Shall the Town Acquire the General Stanton Inn and Flea Market Lot for $1.75 Million?

The Town Council did not place this question on the ballot. A new citizens group, “Friends of The General Stanton Inn”, obtained 351 signatures on a petition to place a question on the June 6 referendum ballot. The all day Town Financial Referendum will include that question asking the voters to approve funding to acquire the General Stanton Inn.

Below are questions and answers that explain the referendum and ballot question. We invite everyone to ask questions and we encourage the “Friends of the General Stanton Inn” and any others to provide answers. You can add your comments at the bottom of the page or email us at mail@charlestowncitizens.org.

Click on blue boxes with questions below to open and display answers.

  • Charlestown holds a Financial Referendum each year in June to allow voters to approve (or not) the town’s budget and any warrant items proposed by the Town or by citizen petition and placed on the ballot.

    Section C-86 (B) of the Town Charter reads as follows, “Those electors who wish to add or eliminate a municipal budget item have until ten (10) calendar days prior to the Budget Public Hearing to present their proposed warrant items for those actions signed by 200 of the town’s voters qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money.”

    Citizen petitions are placed on the ballot as long as they are consistent with the Town Charter and state law. Placing on the ballot a warrant item initiated by citizens’ petition need not be approved, nor can it be denied, by the Town Council.

    A group, Friends of The General Stanton Inn, obtained 351 signatures on a petition to place a question on the June 6 referendum ballot.

  • The referendum question must be the same language as appeared on the citizen petition and is reproduced below:

    Shall the Town Treasurer and the President of the Town Council be authorized, pursuant to RIGL 45-12-2, to issue and refund from time to time, bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness  in an amount not to exceed $1,750,000.00 (one million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars) to  finance the acquisition ,maintenance and capital projects of two properties, the General Stanton Inn 4115 Old Post Rd, 6.85 acres, AP13 lot 1, purchase price $1,325,000. (one million three hundred twenty five thousand dollars),: and 2.3 acre lot on Old Post Road , AP 13 lot5, purchase price $163,000. (one hundred sixty three thousand dollars), : and Maintenance/capital fund of $262,000. (two hundred sixty two thousand dollars), or any interest therein alone or in conjunction with Federal agencies, State agencies, land trusts, or preservation organizations or nonprofit organizations ,for the acquisition of said  listed properties, the terms, details and condition of such bonds, notes or other evidence of indebtedness, to be set by resolution of the Town Council or by the Town Treasurer and the President of the Town Council in the absence of such resolution?

    Explanation: Acquire the General Stanton Inn and one adjacent property  for preservation and enhancement of our community village center. It is envisioned that a non-profit citizens organization would be created to manage, develop and promote community values, uses and activities in the village. Envisioned activities include historic preservation,education, commerce that serves our community, entrepreneurial incubator business  space, seasonal events and activities to guide and promote the continued development of Charlestowns central village, while preserving its character.

  • The voter is being asked to approve a 20-year loan of $1.75 million to allow the town to purchase the General Stanton Inn and an adjacent lot. The ballot does not address what the town would do with the Inn. Review of proposals for use of the Inn will begin after the referendum, if the purchase is authorized.

  • We’ve broken the petition language into three pieces.

    Shall the Town Treasurer and the President of the Town Council be authorized, pursuant to RIGL 45-12-2, to issue and refund from time to time, bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness in an amount not to exceed $1,750,000.00 (one million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars) to finance the acquisition ,maintenance and capital projects of two properties, the General Stanton Inn 4115 Old Post Rd, 6.85 acres, AP13 lot 1, purchase price $1,325,000. (one million three hundred twenty five thousand dollars),: and 2.3 acre lot on Old Post Road , AP 13 lot5, purchase price $163,000. (one hundred sixty three thousand dollars), : and Maintenance/capital fund of $262,000. (two hundred sixty two thousand dollars),

    This says only that the Town may purchase the properties and that the Town may spend up to $1.75 Million. The ballot question does not specify a purpose for the acquisition or restrict use of the properties.

    or any interest therein alone or in conjunction with Federal agencies, State agencies, land trusts, or preservation organizations or nonprofit organizations ,for the acquisition of said listed properties, the terms, details and condition of such bonds, notes or other evidence of indebtedness, to be set by resolution of the Town Council or by the Town Treasurer and the President of the Town Council in the absence of such resolution?

    The language about funding partners was probably copied from another bond question. The taxpayers are being asked to fund the entire purchase. No grants have been submitted for the acquisition and funding agencies are not known to reimburse after the fact.

    Explanation: Acquire the General Stanton Inn and one adjacent property for preservation and enhancement of our community village center. It is envisioned that a non-profit citizens organization would be created to manage, develop and promote community values, uses and activities in the village. Envisioned activities include historic preservation,education, commerce that serves our community, entrepreneurial incubator business space, seasonal events and activities to guide and promote the continued development of Charlestowns central village, while preserving its character.

    Explanations are usually included with ballot questions to explain the complicated legal language of the ballot question in plain English. In this case, a broad vision for use of the property is added after the ballot question, but none of this vision was included in the legal text of the ballot question.

  • If the referendum passes, the voters are authorizing the Town to purchase and own the buildings and land.

    Friends of the General Stanton Inn, the group that placed the petition on the June 6 ballot, has requested that they be given a contract allowing them to control the management, operation, and uses of the properties. Their request, that future contract, and any conditions it might contain, are not included in the ballot question currently before the voters.

  • According to the Secretary of State’s office, Friends of the General Stanton Inn, Inc., was incorporated on April 6, 2016 as a non-profit corporation in Rhode Island. The Directors listed on the incorporation papers are Richard Sartor, Pamela Lyons, and Paula Andersen. There are also currently about 25 volunteers. Their articles of incorporation are available from the Secretary of State.

    The group has developed a website at http://www.friendsofthegeneralstantoninn.org/

    They have provided these documents to describe the properties and their proposals:
    Frequently Asked Questions: In General
    Frequently Asked Questions: Condition of the Inn Properties
    Plan for Acquisition and Operation

    The information in these documents helps to answer some of the questions that have been raised.

  • The Town Charter allows citizens to place questions on the annual Budget Referendum. There is no limit to the dollar amount of these questions. The Town Council cannot change the Charter. Only the voters can change the Charter and only at a November General Election.

The last four blue tabs above were added on May 23rd and provide answers to some of the questions below that were posted before that date.