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Planning Board aims to move forward with rezoning

Date: 4/6/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The Planning Board has announced that it plans to move forward with the rezoning of 27 acres on Boston Road from Adult Care Facility (ACF) to General Business (GB) through an article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant.

"The Planning Board is very much in favor of moving forward with the ACF rezoning," Planning Board Chair Dick Butler said. "[The land] has tax revenue potential. We think the rezoning is consistent with the intent of the original zoning."

Petitioned articles to have the area rezoned as GB were withdrawn from the town meeting in 2006 and defeated in 2008. Before being zoned as ACF, the first 200 feet of the parcel was GB, with the remaining land zoned as Limited Business (LB).

"There is a lot of concern about what this will mean," Butler said, adding that the Planning Board would have the final say about what businesses will be allowed to set up shop on the property. "A business needs special permits ... We have a lot of say with what happens on that parcel."

Butler noted that "potential development is highly unlikely" in the upcoming years because of the state of the economy, and that that will give the Planning Board time to "fine tune" the requirements for businesses looking to move onto the land.

"This is a fairly significant change," David Barry of the Board of Selectmen told Butler at the selectmen's meeting on March 23.

Butler agreed, stating, "Consensus is tough, but that's what I m aiming for."

In addition to presenting this zone change article at the Annual Town Meeting, slated for May 11 at 7 p.m. in the Minnechaug Regional High School auditorium, Butler said that the Planning Board is also aiming to "take a hard look at what's happening on Boston Road" and developing a consensus vision on the remaining parcels on the thoroughfare.

The Planning Board will be hosting a public hearing on April 15 in the Selectmen's Meeting Room in Town Hall to explain what has happened concerning the ACF parcel and where the board and residents want to go with this rezoning.