Residents speak out against rezoning at Planning Board meeting
Monday night’s Planning Board meeting included comments from many citizens who oppose the passage of the Notos Group’s Hospitality, Recreation and Entertainment Overlay District, and not one from a supporter.
Diane Kenney asked about the developer’s plans for an interchange, and said she was uncomfortable with the amount of unknowns involved with passing the rezoning.
“I feel like we’re putting the cart before the horse. The Notos Group is asking us to take a leap of faith and trust them. I wish that the Notos Group would take the leap of faith that would allow us to trust them,” Kenney said.
Leslie Edwards Davis said she thought the Planning Board should vote not to recommend the rezoning. She said rather than passing the rezoning, the town should focus on smart growth in downtown and other areas of town that would not require forests to be cleared.
“There are over 1,300 people who have signed a petition against this, and I would urge you to listen to your constituents, as the Planning Board,” Davis said.
Davis also said that the Master Plan, which was developed by many boards and citizens, says the town should prioritize conservation and protecting the watershed. She said that the town shouldn’t throw away this vision just because of developer interest.
Charlie Rowley, an engineer who frequently works for the town, said that residents should not lose sight of the fact that the rezoning won’t only apply to Notos. Another developer could come in and build under the new regulations.
“The implications of that are significant, and important,” Rowley said. Rowley noted that the zoning proposal doesn’t even include a frontage requirement.
“It’s this kind of discussion about the zoning change in its entirety that has been completely lacking on the part of the Planning Board, the Planning Office, or anything,” Rowley said. “Everything that you have heard has come from one source, and one source only, and it disturbs me that we’re simply focusing in on that and not the ramifications of the entire zoning change that develops 700 acres.”
David Halberstadt, an Onset Water Commissioner, said that he was concerned that the Notos Group had never reached out to the Water District to talk about the proposal. Jeffery Tocchio, the attorney for the Notos Group, protested that they had tried to contact the district, but Halberstadt said they hadn’t tried hard enough.
“We’re concerned that you don’t have a master plan, because we’d like at least a hint of what you’re going to do so we can really have a sense of whether our wells, which are literally a stone’s throw away from this potential development, are going to protected, and whether the water is going to be protected on the other side of Rte. 25,” Halberstadt said. Halberstadt said that the existing zoning does have some protection for the water, but said he’d need to know a lot more about their plans to understand the potential impact.
The Planning Board closed the public hearing, but did not vote on whether they would recommend the passage of the rezoning.