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Providence City Council overrides Mayor’s Veto of Hope Point Tower zoning variance



Providence City Councilor Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) became the deciding vote to override Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza‘s veto of the zoning variance requested by developer, Jason Fane, of the Hope Point Tower, thus granting the developer’s request for height relief and zoning change.

“This decision was not easy. I prayed about it,” said Harris in a speech, with visuals, that lasted over 20 minutes. “I talked to whoever would speak to me. I asked folks the right questions, and asked them all the same questions I always ask – what are the threats and what are the opportunities for my community. And I have concluded that opportunities far outweigh the threats. So today, I stood to override the Mayor’s veto, and I pledge to all those who have been so vocal about affordable housing: I heard you, and I am with you, and we will have it. By the end of my term, we will be a City that puts people to work, that pays them fair and livable wages, and we will have the equity, the income and the equality that every person needs and deserves.”

See: DARE, Neighbors 4 Revitalization, & RIHAP encourage Councilor Harris to vote ‘No’ on Hope Point Tower

“As a city, we will not bend to the wishes of multi-millionaires who seek to change the rules for their own benefit, who seek to take advantage of every subsidy and benefit they can grab and yet who fail to consider the interests of the local community,” said Mayor Elorza in reaction to the vote. “Providence is in the middle of a building boom that hasn’t been seen in decades. We are a city on the rise and we are excited about the amazing projects we have in the pipeline that will continue to make Providence such a special place.

“I am saddened that Councilwoman Harris flipped her vote to side with the developer,” continued Elorza. “Every responsible expert has indicated that this project is not financially viable and will fail under its own weight. It’s disappointing that our City Council ignored these warning signs and caved to continued political pressure, instead of siding with our residents.”

The vote was held despite the absence of Providence City Councilor Seth Yurdin (Ward 1), as concerns about “Democracy” were abandoned by council members in support of the project.

Councilors Luis Aponte, Carmen Castillo, Michael Correia, Terrence Hassett, John Igliozzi, Wilbur Jennings Jr, Sabina Matos, Nicholas Narducci Jr, Mary Kay Harris, and Jo-Ann Ryan all voted to override the Mayor’s Veto.

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Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.