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I encourage all Deep River residents to turn out for an important public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. to oppose a very troubling change to our zoning regulations regarding floating zones. The change, if passed, would permit the Planning & Zoning Commission and approve zoning changes to allow nurseries, landscaping, and construction companies to set up businesses on individual residential properties. In addition, they are proposing that the three required public hearings needed to “land” a floating zone be held concurrently, providing a fast track to approval for developers.
PZC attempted to hold a public hearing on Dec. 13, 2018 with short notice at a time of year when many of us are busy with the holidays. Despite this, 36 townspeople attended in opposition. The meeting was poorly organized and PZC was ill-prepared to receive public input. The commission chair attempted to limit our input to one minute each on an issue that will greatly impact our town for years to come. Fortunately, residents forced the commission to reschedule the public hearing for Jan. 17.
There are many questions to be answered. Why has this proposal been put forward? Who will benefit and who will lose out? Is this commission equipped to deal with the complications that our neighboring town of Clinton has faced? (Search “Clinton floating zones” to see how floating zones can favor special interests.) Why does the commission seem to resent hearing what the people of the town think on this issue instead of welcoming our input? Is this just the first step to expanding development to other areas where it is not wanted?
PZC owes the residents of Deep River answers to these questions and more on Jan. 17. It should be well-prepared to answer them.
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