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Attending a Planning & Zoning Commission hearing last week, I spoke about the dangers of a change to I-2 zoning regulations to allow a sports complex. I am solidly in favor of this complex, so what’s the issue? The property owners proposing this change are the same ones who wanted to build a dirty recycling center on Route 145 at the old Unilever site. These owners have sued the town twice and may not hesitate to do so again. You should ask, what is their real goal here?
The owner’s statements about a possible sports complex on Route 145 sound good, but talk is cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I would like a sports complex here as much as anyone, but there is no way to guarantee this happens. Changing zoning regulations can certainly have unintended consequences. There is a counter opinion that it may be more dangerous to deny the owners’ request. The risk either way is that the owners may not have given up on their plan for a recycling center.
Within the confines of the zoning regulations, property owners can do what they want with their property, public pronouncements notwithstanding. You have to go no further than the new CVS to see an example. The question becomes, is this zoning proposal a clever ruse to facilitate legally changing this site back to a construction debris recycling center through what’s called a “special exception”?
Many parents, with young athletes, will want this complex built, as would I. There’s no way to divine the owner’s true intention. Hoping for an outcome will not make it happen. We must ask ourselves, why would a property owner give up the use of a valuable rail siding to build a sports complex with uncertain revenues?
Selectman Phil Sengle (R)
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