Opinion: New Haven land mustn’t be rezoned
Article 13 on the New Haven Town Meeting Warning asks the voters whether they want the 20-acre parcel on the southeast corner of the intersection of Route 7, which bisects River Road and Belden Falls Road, to be changed from its present zoning of agricultural/rural residential to highway commercial.
The townspeople have not favored a change in the zoning for this parcel, since the same question was solidly voted down twice before in 2008 and 2010. Both of these votes came before voters because it was the right of the property owner to petition for a vote, even though at the time the planning commission, as part of the conclusion of the first hearing, saw no need for such a change of zoning since there were already more than 15 commercial parcels available on Route 7 and therefore they would not support it.
Since then, the planning commission has reviewed that parcel and recommended that it could be considered as part of a “commercial planning district.” So, with this new interpretation the property owner again asked the planning commission for a new hearing on the parcel and this time they made a recommendation to the selectboard in support of the parcel being rezoned. The selectboard voted three in favor, one opposed, and one abstention to make the amended zoning change to highway commercial. However, within the set time period, of a petition was brought before the town clerk, which then required the question to be taken out of the selectboard’s hands and put before the townspeople. The result is Article 13 in the New Haven Town Warning for 2015.
A “no” vote on Article 13 will keep the 20-acre, Route 7-Belden Falls parcel in the agricultural/rural residential district. We offer the following reasons for that vote.
1. When people purchase property as agricultural/residential they should have no expectation that it should undergo rezoning to highway commercial (this has been the property owner’s objective, with this being the third attempt in about 8 years).
2. When individual parcels are considered for rezoning one at a time, in a piecemeal fashion, that is spot zoning, a practice not in consonance with good planning process.
3. The townspeople solidly voted this exact question down before in 2008 and 2010.
4. As the southern gateway to New Haven, a parcel the size of 20 acres could be developed many ways, including a large shopping/office plaza or gas station/convenience store complex similar to that being built in Ferrisburgh. Such types of developments are contrary to the certain town plan goals for the Route 7 corridor, one being to keep traffic moving and the other to preserve the scenic vistas.
Please carefully consider your vote for Article 13. A “no” vote is in the best interest of the town and is in keeping with the character of New Haven. We believe that there is no need to commercially develop this parcel and we support a “no” vote.
Jono Chapin, Susan Smiley, Tammy Newmark and Douglas Tolles
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