We were pleased to see many new faces at the October 7, 2019 Planning Board meeting who came to oppose the proposed changes to the Market and Main project.
The developers of the Market and Main project located in the performance zone along River Road had promised us office space, retail space, a restaurant and a cinema along with “some” apartment units.
Now they admit they can’t get tenants for office space, retail space, a restaurant and a cinema so they want to expand the plans to include a large number of apartments.
The zoning amendments that were passed in March of 2019 have already said NO to this proposal in that while they sought to protect the areas along Route 101, they allowed apartment buildings, including workforce housing, in the performance zone, with limitations that would insure town services would not be overburdened. One key restriction is the limitation to 12 units maximum per building. One of the projects being proposed has been changed to include 6 buildings with 50 units in each building, or 300 total. Current zoning would only permit a total of 60 units – certainly a reasonable opportunity for workforce housing where there was NONE before.
We frankly still don’t think the workforce housing “law” has any teeth, because the way it was written indicates that it is ultimately up to the community to decide if such building projects were appropriate.
Town Manager Rick Sawyer stated that the original M&M project was intended as a “destination” to attract younger people to the area. If you’ve been reading the material on our website, you know that the the “Live, Work, Play” mantra is part of the doctrine of the “new urbanism” agenda being promoted by groups like TPUDC. But it is foolish to assume who will be attracted to any particular project. Planned societies have failed wherever they have been tried. In any case we’d like to remind everyone that it is not the town’s business to pander to any particular demographic. The change in plans for M&M along with the new development that is being proposed both simply do not comply with the zoning laws.
For the woman who asked, “how can we stop this?”, the bottom line is, the new proposals are completely disallowed under current zoning laws and should be rejected for that reason alone. There is NOTHING illegal about the amendments that were passed. These amendments were an indication of how the majority of voters want the town to grow, or not.
Voters should pressure the Planning Board to make sure they follow the current law, and do NOT grant waivers or variances despite the disinformation being spread by those who claim waivers “must” be granted to avoid lawsuits.
We also learned that the public draft of the Master Plan will not be available until December.