We’ve lived here for 22 years and have enjoyed participating in many rewarding aspects of this community. We are writing because we believe that the proposed zoning change for the Waubeeka Golf Course should be closely analyzed for what it actually allows. This concept was originally described as allowing a Country Inn or a Country Inn Boutique, which might help our economy and help keep the golf course open. We have heard almost universal support for that concept. We too support that concept.
However, the language of the proposed bylaw is far broader than the conceptual description that seemed so appealing. This bylaw is in the form of a Citizens Petition submitted by a real estate development lawyer on behalf of Michael Deep, the current owner who wants to develop the property. We should understand what they submitted before we vote at Town Meeting.
At Town Meeting, we do not vote on concepts; we do not vote on attractive drawings. We vote on a legal document which, in this case, is over two pages of terms and conditions. Attached to this cover letter is our attempt to explain the history of the Petition and to describe what it allows. Our analysis is a bit long, but it takes time to explain the numerous concerns with the text of the Petition, which we believe should be addressed before any rezoning of Waubeeka occurs.
Key points include:
- A complex zoning bylaw, especially for this prominent location, should have gone through the Planning Board process and not be written to promote the interests of a single developer/owner.
- The floor of Town Meeting is not well-suited for trying to improve a detailed legal document.
- Instead of the simple Country Inn being advertised, the text of the Petition would allow up to 40 acres of time-share developments in multiple buildings right along Route 7. There is no limit on the number or square footage of buildings. Vaguely defined ‘accessory uses’ are also allowed.
- Despite general assurances of protecting open space, this protection is not permanent and can terminate if, for example, the resort fails.
- The Petition allows an undefined number of acres of a solar farm to be built potentially anywhere on land that is considered as open space.
We have tried to be accurate, but if you see anything that is factually incorrect, please let us know. If you have a different interpretation, please keep in mind that if a provision lends itself to more than one reading, such ambiguity itself could be a cause for concern. (As two lawyers, we’ve debated the meaning of a couple sections.) We urge you to help us avoid having the public discussion regarding the Petition be simplistically, and wrongly, characterized as a debate over pro-development versus NIMBY objections.
Instead, let’s focus on the serious issues raised by this Petition.
While there is general consensus that some development at Waubeeka makes good sense, we need to make sure that any zoning change provides for an appropriate scope and scale, as well as meaningful protection of open space. We appreciate your interest in this important public issue.
-Anne and Andy Hogeland