THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF WAUBEEKA, BEAUTY AT OUR SOUTHERN GATEWAY
The Williamstown Planning Board, in January, tabled Michael Deep’s request for a zoning change to develop his Waubeeka property. Deep then bypassed the Planning Board by sending a Citizen’s Petition requesting the zoning change, to the May 17 Town Meeting
By Tela Zasloff
On March 15 the Planning Board held its seventh public meeting to hear Michael Deep’s request for a zoning change that would allow a hotel to be built on his Waubeeka Golf Course property in South Williamstown. This meeting was remarkable for its level of contentiousness and personal accusations, both between Planning Board members, and their exchange with Deep and his lawyer, Stanley Parese. How did this level of incivility in a Town committee meeting come about?
Here is a brief history. Deep first made his proposal and request for zoning change at a September 2015 Planning Board meeting. The Board expressed their support in principle, although it was an unusual move for a Town committee to rezone for one person, sometimes called “spot zoning.” Their rationale was that the zoning change would help maintain the existing golf course as a business. They directed Town Planner Andrew Groff to work with Deep and his attorney to develop possible zoning changes for the Board to consider, that would ultimately have to be approved by Town Meeting. Even if the zoning change were approved, Deep would still need to find a hotel developer interested in creating a hotel on the site and figuring out how to build one. The development itself could then be allowed by a special permit, which would open the project up to the scrutiny of the Zoning Board of Appeals. On the question of the size and number of rooms of the proposed hotel, Deep said he had only a vague idea, that a developer would be clear on this, but that the hotel would be on the scale of a “country inn”. Parese added that they couldn’t have a serious conversation with developers until after they know that the zoning could be changed.
In December Deep took three Planning Board members and interested town residents on a tour of his proposed hotel site (presented as a few acres), referring to the hotel as a “country inn boutique”. At the Planning Board meeting with Deep and Parese on January 26, 2016, the Board voted to table doing further work on drafting a new zoning bylaw for Deep, until he provided them with more information that they had been requesting for months—specifically, proposed building designs, a professional marketing study, and the name and credentials of a Deep partner-developer who would build and operate the hotel. Deep and Parese continued to argue that a marketing study and building designs have to come after a zoning change is established, not before—a point contested several times by members of the Board. Several also pointed out that, in Deep’s draft of the new bylaw, he had changed the nature of his proposal—the hotel site had become much larger than a small country inn, covering a maximum of 40 acres (20% of Deep’s property), rather than just a few. About ten days after the Planning Board voted 3-2 to table their drafting of a new zoning bylaw until Deep gave them the information they requested, Deep and Parese rewrote their bylaw proposal in the form of a Citizen’s Petition to be presented for a vote at the May 17 Town Meeting. If that Petition gets a 2/3 vote by the town residents present at the meeting, it has the weight of law and Deep can go the next step by filing for a Special Permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals.
So the March 15 Planning Board meeting with Deep and Parese, was not only ugly and a repeat of Deep’s refusal to give the Board all the information they asked for, but was also moot, since, under State law, the Citizen’s Petition has to go to Town Meeting as written.
Let’s have a look at this Petition and ask ourselves some pertinent questions so we can be informed voters at Town Meeting. [See below the full text of the Petition.] And let’s also ask ourselves about maintaining our values in promoting development while not endangering the unique natural beauty and character of where we live.
Section F. Waubeeka Overlay District. (2): “In the event a WOD special permit lapses pursuant to §70-8.4.B., is permanently revoked, or is permanently surrendered, the special requirements of such WOD special permit shall expire.” Doesn’t this mean that if Deep lets the special permit expire, even after he has begun building, the open space protection also expires?
Section F. Waubeeka Overlay District. (3) Permissible Uses (b) Accessory Uses: “Uses customarily accessory to New England resort hotel properties.” Implies hotel will be on a larger scale than a country inn, perhaps up to 40 acres.
Section F. Waubeeka Overlay District. (4) Development and Standards: No limit on number of rooms or square feet of buildings.
Section F. Waubeeka Overlay District. (5) Open Space a): “Open space means areas left substantially in a natural or landscaped state. No less than 80% of the district shall remain open space. i.: “Permitted Open Space Improvements: Open Space shall be inclusive of golf course area, subsurface infrastructure, accessory use solar photovoltaic infrastructure and panels, and such accessory buildings reasonably necessary. . . .No such accessory buildings shall have an area in excess of 600 square feet.” 1. A solar panel array, with its problem of a large footprint, is claimed here to be open space? 2. Will the present golf course be diminished in size if the resort is using the full 40 acres allotted? 3. Will the golf course remain a public golf course? Not mentioned here. 4. Why is there no mention in the Petition, of permanent conservation restriction and protection for this open space?
- 70-9.2 DEFINITIONS
“HOTEL: A building or part thereof, or a group of buildings on a single lot, providing transient sleeping accommodations in guest units, not dwelling units, to the general public or, in whole or in part, in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Ch.183B. . . .” Chapter 183B regulates Time Share developments. Doesn’t this bring in a different kind of traffic, clientele, and non-local management set-up, and doesn’t the voting in of this new Town-wide hotel definition allow any hotel in town to set up Time Shares? Also, there’s no limit given here on the number of Time Share units, and Time Share non-local developers can sell out, leaving no effective recourse or control by the Town or Planning Board.
[We are collecting Commentary on this issue. See below.]
Amendment to zoning bylaw
WAUBEEKA OVERLAY DISTRICT
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Williamstown Zoning By-Laws, §70 of the Code of the Town of Williamstown as follows, or take any other action in relation thereto:
Amend §70-2.1.B by adding the following;
Waubeeka Overlay District (WOD)
Amend §70-2.3 by adding the following;
- Waubeeka Overlay District is composed of land shown on the Williamstown Assessor’s Maps, as of the date of the passage of this chapter, Map 303, Lot 51 and 17, and Map 304, Lot 30.
Amend §70-7.4 by adding the following;
- Waubeeka Overlay District
- The Waubeeka Overlay District is intended to permit and encourage redevelopment at the Waubeeka property in a manner that:
- Preserves the majority of the area within the district as an important community recreational and open space asset.
- Is consistent and in keeping with the historical context of the adjacent South Williamstown Historic District and the greater community.
- Promotes the public welfare by encouraging the reuse and enhancement of an existing economic asset; encouraging much needed expansion of Williamstown’s commercial tax base; and encouraging much needed expansion of broad and inclusive employment opportunities in Williamstown.
- The Waubeeka Overlay District is superimposed over the underlying Rural Residence 2 district. Land in the district may be used for such uses as are permitted by right or allowed subject to special permit approval in the underlying district, subject to the same requirements as in the underlying district. Within the WOD, requirements of the underlying district shall apply except where superseded by the special requirements of the WOD in connection with WOD special permits. In the event a WOD special permit lapses pursuant to §70-8.4.B., is permanently revoked, or is permanently surrendered the special requirements of such WOD special permit shall expire.
- Permissible Uses. The following primary and accessory uses are permitted in the WOD upon Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
- Primary Uses.
- Primary Uses.
- Membership Club
- Golf Course
- Accessory Uses.
- Uses customarily accessory to New England resort hotel properties.
- Agriculture and related uses as described in §70-7.2.D.
- Development and Standards.
- Height Requirements: Buildings shall be limited to three stories in height, and no higher than 40 feet. The exterior design will reduce the apparent height and bulk of the building. Design features should have architectural elements that divide the building into smaller pieces Applicants are required to present plans that demonstrate consistency with this objective.
- Landscaping should reduce the apparent height and bulk of the building. Landscape design will include trees, singly or in clumps, arranged to break up the mass of the building and provide a more human scale and shall be oriented in order to reduce massing from adjacent properties and preserve existing distant mountain viewsheds to the maximum extent practicable.
- Dimensional Requirements: The underlying dimensional standards with the exception of open space requirements, of the Rural Residence Two District shall apply.
- Parking Requirements: Subject to parking determination from the Planning Board as an unlisted use.
- Open Space – Building Envelopes. In connection with any WOD special permit, the entire WOD shall be divided into open space and building envelopes:
- Open space means areas left substantially in a natural or landscaped state. No less than 80% of the district shall remain open space as a condition of any WOD special permit.
- Permitted Open Space Improvements: Open Space shall be inclusive of golf course area, subsurface infrastructure, accessory use solar photovoltaic infrastructure and panels, and such accessory buildings reasonably necessary to support the operation of such permitted open space improvements provided no such accessory buildings shall have an area in excess of 600 square feet. Examples of such accessory buildings include pump houses, equipment shelters, control technology shelters, rain shelters, rest rooms and snack sheds.
- Prohibited Open Space Improvements: All structures other than those permitted under subsection (5)(a)(i) above.
- Building envelopes means areas other than designated open space.
- Permitted Building Envelope Improvements: Structures, infrastructure, improvements, and landscaping related to Permissible Uses.
- Prohibited Building Envelope Improvements: Dwellings.
- Open space means areas left substantially in a natural or landscaped state. No less than 80% of the district shall remain open space as a condition of any WOD special permit.
- Access to Building Envelopes shall be from New Ashford Road frontage.
- Infrastructure in the district need not be located on the same parcel, premises, or Assessor’s Map Lot as the structures or uses it supports. Building envelopes and the structures, infrastructure, improvements and landscaping within them may span parcels, premises, or Assessor’s Parcels within the WOD.
- Plan Requirements: Any applicant for a WOD special permit shall submit a plan defining open space areas and building envelopes in accordance with this section. The plan shall be prepared by an engineer, architect, or registered surveyor.
- Any special permit under this section shall include a condition approving and referencing the Open Space / Building Envelope Plan. The building envelope or envelopes for the uses listed in subsections (3)(a) above shall be located within 500 feet of New Ashford Road and in the northeast quadrant of the district.
- Special Permit Criteria: Any proposed development shall meet the following criteria in addition to the Special Permit criteria of 70-8.3.D
- The development shall balance development with preserving open space and view sheds on the remainder of the property.
- The overall development, including architectural design, shall be of a form, style, and scale that maintains and enhances those qualities and historical traditions of the Five Corners National Registered Historic District in order to protect the historic and scenic character of the adjacent district.
Amend §70-9.2 by deleting the following:
HOTEL OR MOTEL — A building or portion thereof, or a group of buildings on a single lot, providing transient sleeping accommodations to the general public in guest units without kitchens, plus not more than a single accessory dwelling unit, but not including a tourist home or boarding or rooming house.
And replacing with the following:
- 70-9.2 Definitions
HOTEL: A building or part thereof, or a group of buildings on a single lot, providing transient sleeping accommodations in guest units, not dwelling units, to the general public or, in whole or in part, in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Ch. 183B. Hotels may include a single accessory dwelling unit but shall not include a tourist home or rooming house.
MOTEL: A building or part thereof, or a group of buildings on a single lot, providing transient sleeping accommodations to the general public in guest units, not dwelling units, that are accessed from the exterior only and front upon parking lots. Motels may include a single accessory dwelling unit but shall not include a tourist home or rooming house.
“The Planning Board is a board created by the Town with specific duties set forth in state law. The primary mission of the Board is two separate but complimentary processes. One is the preparation from time to time of plans and studies relevant to the future fabric of the community. Studies that focus on land use, housing, recreation and conservation, and business development are all relevant as is the community’s comprehensive master plan. Complimenting this mission is the board’s responsibility for enforcing the subdivision control act in the community and reviewing all proposals for zoning bylaw amendments as well as proposing bylaw amendments of its own. While not required by law good planning practice argues that these acts should always be performed with community support and within the vision prescribed by the plans and studies prepared by the Board.” http://www.williamstown.net/2162/Planning-Board
The Berkshire Eagle
Posted: 03/23/2016 04:28:19 PM EDT | Updated: 2 days ago
To the editor:
We on the Williamstown Planning Board heard a petition about six months ago from Mike Deep, who owns the Waubeeka golf course. The following is an account of subsequent events.
Mr. Deep claimed the golf course is losing money and that a new hotel might keep it afloat. Would the Planning Board be behind rezoning the site to allow a hotel (presently not an allowed use in Rural Residence zones)? This was an unusual request, and one generally frowned on as “spot zoning” meaning that it would benefit not a swath of town but just one owner of one lot. The Planning Board agreed that in this case, enabling most of the golf course to stay as open space could also benefit the whole town, as it would keep the important southern gateway to the town with its gorgeous mountain views, so important to all of us residents as well as to our tourist industry.
The agreed upon idea was that he would take part of the property to develop as his hotel, and in return he would ensure that the rest of the property would be left as open space never to be built on.
Over the course of several meetings, we tried to hammer out a bylaw that would satisfy both parties, but there remained intractable sticking points such as how many acres the development would cover and how to ensure the open land would stay as open land. Eventually it was clear we could not reach consensus. With the open-ended by-law Mr. Deep wanted, the town would run the risk of a disaster: an inappropriately sized development for this crucial part of town, or worse still one that would start with enthusiasm and then run out of money and be abandoned after just a few years.
So we passed a motion saying the Planning Board was enthusiastically behind the idea of a country inn on the golf course (to help assure potential developers) and asking Mr. Deep to provide three items before we went any further: a market study studying the hotel needs for North Berkshire County, a schematic plan of his proposal, and a potential developer/partner, with whom we could discuss issues that would be important in ensuring a hotel that the Town would feel was worth the unusual trade-off. Once we had that, we could craft the appropriate by-law to accommodate his needs.
Not willing to provide the Planning Board’s requests (though he provided partial answers at the recent public hearing), Mr. Deep is going for an end run around the board, with a citizen’s petition that will be voted on at Town Meeting, bypassing the Planning Board. The opinion of a majority of the Planning Board members remains opposed to this petition.
Development at any cost is not good Planning.
Ann McCallum, Williamstown The writer is vice chair of the Williamstown Planning Board
Statement by Planning Board Chair on Williamstown development On developing Waubeeka Golf Course and Christmas Brook areas
By Amy Jeschawitz, Chair, March 15, 2016
I am currently in my second year on the Planning Board. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity of being Chair of this Board in my second year. I moved to Williamstown 10 years ago. I have lived in Williamstown 8 years while spending 2 years in Great Barrington.
Thinking about Williamstown—The vitality that was here in 2006 when I first moved to town has waned. Our high school is in disrepair, the closest hospital has closed, our Police and Fire Stations are antiquated and our business districts are littered with empty storefronts. Let’s take a walk down Spring Street. Tomorrow take this walk on your own and REALLY look. First off the street itself is filthy. Last night’s soda cups and beer bottles outside establishments, trash and leaves litter the curb the length of the street. I believe there are three empty store fronts along with the vacant lot in the middle which some people like to refer to as a park. I remember when there was a building there with shops, not a so-called park. What really drives me nuts are the overflowing trash bins after a busy College weekend…or even during the weekend. Moving over to Water Street, we see two more empty store fronts in prime locations. And let’s not forget the old town garage site which has been empty for at least 20 years. What about Linear Park, with its antiquated playground equipment?
Now let’s take a drive along Rte 2. How long has the Agway Complex been for sale? At least the condemned houses next to the Agway complex have been torn down—but again another vacant lot. Do you know there is another Linear Park #2 behind this lot? There is no sign along the road, the sign that is there once you drive in is old and faded from 14 years ago. Continue to Colonial Shopping Center. The center is old and tired, in dire need of a face lift along with empty storefronts as well. Across the street are the remnants of the Four Acres restaurant which has been empty since I moved to town.
Turn around and drive down Cole Avenue. You have the defunct Women’s Exchange building and of course our monument PhoTech. Next, find your way to Rte 7 South. There is the defunct Taconic Restaurant which has been for sale 8-9 years. (The brown buildings…) Ignore the high school as you go by, which is what we have been doing for years. Finally you reach 5 Corners. Green River Farm…a complete shame. The large hoop barn is gone; that happened a couple years ago. Now the plastic on one of the greenhouses flaps in the breeze.
Williamstown sure is an attractive place. Have we become complacent? Is this our new normal? Part of me says we have and the other screams, I can’t stand it anymore. I try very hard to not use the words “change”, “grow”, “development” as people’s heads start spinning and fire comes from their mouths. I believe I used the word “fix” a couple meetings ago and that was bad, too. Our community has become Anti-EVERYTHING. We have decided that life is good here in W-town and absolutely nothing needs to be changed, anything but. Do you realize NOTHING is happening in Williamstown? Rarely a new business opens, no new construction of any kind (excluding Williams College), and that includes business and homes. Yet still we are thinking everything is OK.
I attended the Williamstown Elementary School budget meeting last week in this very same room. I came not because I have children in the school district because I do not. I came to see who showed up and hear their thoughts. The room was full of emotion as this one is tonight. I sat and listened to parents, the school committee and the superintendent agonize over the budget and how to NOT reduce a program WES has had for over 25 years yet balance a budget that has been out of line for years. What I heard was concern and fear—how could we do this? We are a community. The other thing I realized is we “cannot see the forest for the trees.” As a community we have become obsessed and too involved in details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole.
How do communities sustain themselves? Mostly by increasing their tax base. Taxes pay for schools, roads, parks, water/sewer, etc. They pay for what communities need and want. Our taxes in Williamstown have stayed relatively flat over the years, minimal growth while the world around us continues to become more expensive. We need to face reality. Our taxes are going to increase. We have a high school to pay for one way or another among other things. We all have hard choices ahead of us.
As a community we need to make the best decisions for us as a whole. We should not be NIMBY’s. If you want to live on an island then go find one. Run your own school, your own police and fire, haul water, etc. You run the show. Otherwise, we all need to make sacrifices. It has become clear to me over the past few months that there is an increasing Agenda being put forth by members of both the Selectboard and members of this Planning Board. It is politics, I understand that, although I do not agree. Our commitments as Board members are to consider the community as a whole, NOT to promote individual agendas. To borrow words from a friend of mine, “I think we are better than that.”
Williamstown is a community of approximately 8,000. We are struggling as many others are in our area. We have an opportunity right now to move our community in a better direction with several of the zoning amendments we are here to discuss tonight—most significantly, the items for the Expansion of the Village Business District and the Waubeeka Overlay District. Both articles are significant and hold long lasting implications for us as a town, implications we can use to improve our tax base, provide more jobs and restore two community assets, Waubeeka Golf Course and the Christmas Brook area. I encourage all residents to be thoughtful and make a well informed decision with accurate information for their vote at town meeting. Do not rely on rumors or “I think” statements from friends and neighbors. As a Board tonight we are going to vote on each of the articles and make our recommendations for Town Meeting. Now let’s get started.
Open Letter to Town officials on Waubeeka development proposal. From Jamie Bairstow
TO: Town Manager Jason Hoch, Town Planner Andrew Groff , and to members of the Planning Board, Selectmen, Conservation Commission, Agricultural Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals
FROM: Jamie Bairstow, 175 Blair Road, Williamstown, MA
I’ve lived in Williamstown for thirty years, and I’ve watched a lot of municipal meetings—but I’ve never seen a meeting like the recent Planning Board Public Hearing, held at the Williamstown Elementary School last Tuesday evening, 15 March 2016. Planning Board Chair A. Jeschawitz made a withering opening statement, an unforgettable Ode to Williamstown, ( http://www.willinet.org/content/planning-board-meeting-31516 ), which set the tone and “framed the debate”, as iBerkshires’ Stephen Dravis chose to put it.
The Chair of the Planning Board delivered a stunningly myopic and deeply offensive critique of Williamstown, and I could hardly believe my ears. From her perspective, “our streets are filthy”, “littered with empty storefronts”, “defunct buildings”, “defunct restaurants”, “overflowing trash bins”, “old faded signs”, sad little parks, things that need a face lift–“a town whose vitality has waned”, making her “sick of it”, where she says “nothing happens” and “nobody cares”…and it is the fault of some complacent NIMBYs “who think everything is good, nothing needs to be changed, anything but.”
I couldn’t tell where this might be going, unless it was a complaint to the DPW. In her capacity as Chair, (but not representing the majority opinion), and failing to cite ANY of the various larger forces at work, economic or otherwise, she firmly placed the blame for all of our troubles where she thinks it belongs. At the feet of. . .the NIMBYs. It’s rather simplistic, but always convenient to blame the mythical NIMBYs—nobody wants to be one, right?
Her complaint referenced “no new businesses or homes, and only limited non-Williams construction”. However, Highland Woods has forty affordable and subsidized units, and was built in record time. Cable Mills is about to be occupied. PhoTech, snarkily christened “Our Monument”, waits in the pipeline for affordable family housing. Are we living in the same town?
She closed with a patronizing lecture on how we all need to make sacrifices. “You want to live on an island? Go find one.” She says our Planning Board and Selectmen have an “increasing agenda”. (Is that a conspiracy theory?) And adds inspirationally, “We’re better than this”.
What’s all this about?
The public hearing began, and all three Planning Board-sponsored bylaws were expeditiously recommended to Town Meeting. Then came the Citizens’ Petition regarding the zoning bylaw amendment for Waubeeka. Things got even weirder. Despite the known fact that the Planning Board could not legally amend the Citizens’ Petition, the Chair allowed Mr. Deep and his attorney to put on quite a performance. They’ve been before the board many times in the past six months, but this time they belatedly tried to bargain with the Board, and their presentation was oddly reminiscent of “Let’s Make a Deal!”. As the meeting wore on, the Chair’s objectivity wore off even further, to the point where she rudely dismissed a fellow Planning Board member, as if she was a dog at the dinner table. Ouch! That was hard to watch! (Like watching “The Apprentice”).
During the discussion, Planning Board member C. Winters opined that his fellow board members were “sending a chilling message” to just about everybody. This was intoned with grave solemnity. It was pointed out to him that “careful consideration doesn’t mean a chilling message”, but that didn’t seem to resonate. Before the meeting was adjourned, he gave a little pep talk to the audience about how their votes matter and they can vote on this Citizens’ Petition at Town Meeting, and. . .you know. . .vote for Planning Board members. It was a grossly transparent appeal to vote out the board members he doesn’t like.
What is going ON? Scolding and finger-pointing? Trashing the town, the voters, and fellow board members? Pandering for votes and politicking at a public hearing?
Apparently, all of this howling and chest-thumping is an effort to get the Planning Board and the Selectmen to recommend passage of the Citizens’ Petition/zoning bylaw to Town Meeting, so let’s look at that.
It was presented to Williamstown by the attorney for a real estate developer. It is not a zoning bylaw amendment forwarded by our elected Planning Board, (as is usually done), but by a Citizens’ Petition with less than 25 signatures. The Planning Board DID try to accommodate Mr. Deep, for several frustrating months. They tried to do their job: careful, sensible, forward-thinking planning. They tried to write a zoning bylaw amendment. They were amenable to the idea of a “country inn” at the site, until the “country inn” turned into a “high-end luxury destination golf resort”, with a forty-acre building envelope, and an additional 67 acres of (open space) photovoltaic array of solar panels.
Mr. Deep, his attorney, and Planning Board member C. Winters have repeatedly insisted that if this bylaw amendment isn’t passed this year by Town Meeting, then the project is dead and the golf course is doomed. Failure to recommend would “kill the project”. Three members of the Planning Board have asked many times for a defined building envelope, some strong open space protection, more market specifics. But no such helpful information was ever forthcoming, and a conservation restriction was a “non-starter”. Over a period of four-five months, the rambling verbal-only sales pitch for the project changed and changed, and then changed some more. The drawings and the market report only appeared at the eleventh hour, ( http://www.iberkshires.com/story/51387/Waubeeka-Owner-Makes-Final-Pitch-to-Planning-Board.html ), after the Planning Board had finally tabled the matter, and after the Citizens’ Petition had been drafted and presented to the Selectmen. The STR market report could not be viewed by the public or even by the Planning Board in open session—and was therefore useless from a planning perspective.
Why has there been so much evasion? We’ve been told that this matter is URGENT, in order to save the golf course. We all want to save the golf course. They ran out the clock with the Planning Board, but then cynically tried to appeal to the voters at the public hearing, and were allowed to do it. They’re giving us nothing, and then berating us for our lack of trust. Why have Mr. Deep and his attorney allowed their own lack of candor to jeopardize their own project in this way? Is there something they don’t want us to know? This whole thing is very. . .erratic.
Planning Board member C. Winters has repeatedly stated on the record that his colleagues and the rest of us are “crazy” for wanting to know so much. But I think it’s WAY more crazy to write zoning legislation on the floor of Town Meeting without knowing anything at all.
This Citizens’ Petition represents a dangerous, amorphous piece of spot zoning (overlay district) for our treasured scenic gateway. The open nature of the southern gateway has been maintained for hundreds of years, and it would be irreversibly altered by careless commercial development. Will we be the ones who allow it to be ruined? Or will we insist on sensible, sustainable, reasonably scaled proposals? Two members of the Planning Board appear to be vigorously cheerleading the Citizens’ Petition. In effect, they are ADVOCATING an end run around our democratically elected Planning Board’s majority decision to table the matter, a decision made after six meetings and a site visit. This maneuvering might be technically legal, but is it wise?
Their advertising meme is, “This is investment, it’s ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT! What’s the problem?”
There are many potential problems. The bylaw was put together by an attorney, for a real estate developer. Now it is being rammed through the process. That’s not in our best interests. The scale of what could be allowed, and the lack of any meaningful open space protection are especially worrisome. The timeshare element of their zoning amendment, with its potential ramifications for Williamstown, is another troubling aspect. It hasn’t been discussed much, and appears to be riding piggy-back into Williamstown on this bylaw amendment.
There seems to be a disconnect here, a big one. I’m can’t help but wonder, do my elected and appointed officials know anything of Mr. Deep’s history in the area? His track record? Say we were writing an RFP. Wouldn’t we be interested in that? It’s part of the planning and decision-making process to assess a developer’s track record. We have a fair amount of new blood in town government. To be fair, it’s conceivable that, as relative newcomers, some of you might not actually KNOW what Mr. Deep’s track record actually IS. Please read this highly informative piece written just six years ago by Scott Stafford of The Berkshire Eagle.
http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_14122971 And then this recent article by Stephen Dravis of iBerkshires.
There’s much more out there in the public record. It should help to illustrate why the majority on the Planning Board and so many of the community are having serious doubts about allowing a zoning bylaw amendment which would allow commercial development of FORTY ACRES along our scenic gateway. Reasonable, thinking people are justifiably concerned about what might happen with the Waubeeka property, and yet I have not heard even one NIMBY say that Mr. Deep should be denied a thoughtfully revised zoning plan to allow him a modest “country inn”. We want him to do it right. We don’t want to carelessly allow a potentially massive luxury destination golf resort project with timeshares—which can only realistically serve golfers on the days when our New England weather permits golf. We don’t want to carelessly allow anything that will be to the detriment of the town, and that is one of the reasons why we have a Planning Board, to make sure that we don’t. Most importantly, Williamstown needs to be able to trust a developer. If we’re going to change zoning for him, there has to be a standard. We should really try to have an orderly conversation about whether residential development would be a better choice for Williamstown (ten lots on 200 acres, by right), but that’s a matter for another day.
Let’s all calm down and think about the future of the community as a whole, rather than the future of just one aggressive agenda. Economic development is always best served by smart growth, and smart growth is never accomplished “on the fly”. Let’s go back to the drawing board and do it right, if we’re inclined to do it. Developers and speculators are always looking for opportunities, as all land-owning farmers know. By nature, they see something in every open field, but can hopefully be held to a reasonable, sustainable standard of development with PLANNING AND ZONING. This matter can come back to the Planning Board again, if Mr. Deep so chooses. That’s his decision. The Planning Board has made it clear that it will favorably consider some development in South Williamstown, bearing in mind that it is at the bottom of a river valley, and is cherished by the townspeople. We don’t need to panic and take the first (somewhat dubious) offer that comes along.
Can we have civility and respect amongst our elected and appointed officials? Can we strive for open, rational dialogue and objectivity? Can we LISTEN to the concerns of the community, without broadly labeling them as NIMBYs? I think we can. Our boards are supposed to work in our best interests, not the other way around.
I have always found the voters of Williamstown to be informed, intelligent, and discerning. We care about this beautiful place, and we’ll fight for it.
We ARE better than this.
from Bill Densmore
My personal view is that the Citizen’s Petition as proposed by Stan Parese is a blank check for vast overdevelopment of Waubeeka without any permanent protection of the open space remaining. So the idea of substantially amending it at town meeting has some merit. But I have two reasons why I, personally, would not support that approach:
— Someone competent in zoning and planning–probably a lawyer–will have to spend substantial time crafting a substitute amendment—essentially replacing Stan’s language with something wholly new. Who is going to lead that process? Who is going to pay for it? How will we know, as voters at town meeting, that it is legal and not subject to immediate challenge?
— This is precisely what we elect the Planning Board to do. The planning board majority has attempted to do that, in respectful collaboration with the proponent, and has found him unwilling to facilitate the process in any meaningful way. To end-run the Planning Board and have some unelected person or entity, without the input of the town in any official way, develop a zoning change which would undo a decades-old declaration of intent by Town Meeting about appropriate zoning for South Williamstown–smacks of Keystone Kops government.
— There is no rush here, other than the proponent’s pushing. I will be lobbying at town meeting to reject any consideration of rezoning and send the whole matter back to the Planning Board, where it belongs, for further consideration and action. Developers planning projects in Williamstown have to understand that they need to pass through the hoops of Conservation Commission approval if they want to get anything done.
— This is not a referendum on whether you support economic development in Williamstown; it is a referendum on whether you support a process of good government. The debate about how and where we support economic development properly belongs with the Planning Board, among other places.
— Where we should be having the referendum on zoning is in consideration of whom we elect, on May 10, to fill two open seats on the Planning Board. I think that is the critical public-service The Greylock Independent can provide over the next few weeks.
“COUNTRY INN BOUTIQUE”: Proposed By-Law Reality
By Sherwood and Carol Guernsey
Mike Deep’s proposed by-law changes are very different from a “Country Inn Boutique” plan, and would profoundly and permanently alter both the character and natural beauty of our town as well as the process by which we protect them. Here’s how:
- Project Size: By-Law Reality
- 40 acres of potential development, not the 3-5 acres of Deep showed residents on a site visit in December
- Must be within 500 feet of Route 7, creating a strip of development running the entire length of golf course frontage on Route 7, i.e., 2,193 feet, or approximately 7 football fields end-to-end
- Hotel Size: By-Law Reality
- No limit on total number of rooms or square footage of buildings; other towns limit number of rooms (Great Barrington limits size to 45 rooms)
- Accessory Uses: By-Law Reality
- By-law permits any ‘accessory uses” customary to New England resort hotels (see SecF(3) (b) i), such as Jiminy Peak, water slides, whatever might be found in resorts throughout New England; vague and undefined.
- Hotel Definition: By-Law Reality
- Hotel definition: Unlimited Timeshare units included. Petition redefines “Hotel” to include timeshares (called 183B) through entire Town; No limit on Time Share units for Waubeeka.
- No Planning Board due diligence on impacts to town, good or bad: Time Share units tend to be bigger (often including kitchen or living area), and if 100% timeshare, owner can sellout leaving only out-of-town owners without effective recourse by town
- Open Space: By-Law Reality
- Enforced by zoning officer but no permanent protection by a conservation restriction; example: see number 6 below.
- Proposes that a solar farm on 67 acres should be considered “open space”
- Open Space Reversion: By-Law Reality
- If Deep’s permit lapses, is revoked or if he surrenders (returns) it – even after he builds buildings – the open space protection expires. (See Petition Sec.F(2) last sentence, added by this Petition, not in Planning Board drafts.)
- Zoning/Planning Process: By-Law Reality
- Highly unusual to rezone for just one person, one developer: akin to “spot zoning”
- Normally, the Planning Board drafts zoning by-law changes and performs due diligence. But Deep ended the Planning Board process when he was asked to provide additional information because this was one-owner, one-developer zoning. Instead he filed a petition to bypass the Planning Board, thus circumventing our Planning Board process.
- Complex Zoning by-laws should not be written by and for a developer and then presented at town meeting
- Golf Course Open to public: By-Law Reality
- No commitment in by-law that course will remain a public golf course, and up to 40 acres of development could mean a much smaller course.
- Tax Revenue: By-Law Reality
- Any gain in tax revenue would be offset by the damage to the landscape of the southern gateway with the magnitude of this project. Our natural beauty is our identity: “The village beautiful”. People move here because of it. Ruin it and they won’t come. Tax revenues go down. We need smart growth, not growth that destroys the environment—just as the Economic Development Committee report recently urged.
- Values and Economic Development: By-law Reality
- By-Law undermines Town’s recent economic report’s goal of protecting open space and smart growth
- Huge development stretching along route 7 would destroy the beauty of our southern gateway, “everyone’s backyard”, harming tourism and our attractiveness to anyone wanting to move here with a business, or live here.
Excerpts from “Strategies for Economic Growth in Williamstown, Massachusetts (2015) –
Town Values: “Several values dominated the discussion of the plan. Among these were a strong sense of environmental values, particularly as it pertains to preserving the beauty of the local environment…Any future economic development should be accomplished without detracting from the character of the town”. Pg. 17-18
Recommendation: “Identify and protect the scenic and rural landscape and open spaces especially along the entrances to Williamstown. The EDC approved this recommendation 11-0-0”. Pg. 52
Anne and Andy Hogeland. Analysis of Citizens Petition on Waubeeka development, proposed bylaw for May 17 Town Meeting
Dear Friends, March 31, 2016
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 40acres 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
ANALYSIS OF THE PROPOSED WAUBEEKA BYLAW: REASONS FOR CONCERN
Town Meeting will vote on a Citizens Petition to rezone Waubeeka Golf Course and allow extensive development of this 200-acre parcel. For several months, owner Michael Deep presented a verbal description of his desire to build a Country Inn or Country Inn Boutique. He has received positive feedback from the entire Planning Board and broadly throughout the community. We agree. There has been no opposition expressed to the general concept of a Country Inn at Waubeeka, and we continue to support this concept.
However, the text of the Citizens Petition upon which we will vote at Town Meeting is far broader. The Petition allows a hotel and a time-share development on up to 40 acres and, in our view, provides insufficient commitment to open space. By presenting this Petition with his own version of a bylaw, Deep has bypassed the normal Planning Board process for developing zoning bylaws, which could have produced a bylaw more tailored to the original concept.
Especially since Waubeeka is located along our scenic gateway, we should not be granting important new development rights without a very close look at the details. We believe a small-scale Country Inn might have a positive impact on our economy and community and that an appropriate bylaw could have been drafted to further the long-term best interests of the Town.
In September 2015, Deep approached the Planning Board requesting a zoning change that would allow him to build a Country Inn at Waubeeka. Since then, he repeatedly explained that this Inn would require about 2-3 acres. 1 (Willinet tape of 12/8/15 PB Meeting, 1:26:30-45, 1:21:50-59) Deep or his attorney, Stan Parese, appeared at each of the next five Planning Board meetings, and at a site visit in December. At that visit, Deep showed Board members and townspeople a space north of the clubhouse that occupies about 5 acres. On each occasion, the Board and citizens expressed interest and support. They asked for more details that would help explain Deep’s vision, but Deep provided none.
Finally, the Planning Board voted on January 26th to table further discussion until Deep provided a regional hotel market study, schematic design information on location, size and dimensions, and information regarding the partner, if there will be one. The information could have been used by the Planning Board to draft an appropriate bylaw.
Instead of providing the requested information, on February 5th, Parese filed a Citizens Petition with his own version of a bylaw, circumventing the Planning Board’s normal process for developing zoning bylaws. Under state law, a Citizens Petition has to go directly to the voters at Town Meeting as written. Both the Planning Board and Select Board have the opportunity to recommend to Town Meeting a YES or NO vote, but they have no power to change the text of the Petition itself. The Planning Board was required to hold a public hearing, and did so on March 15th.
Just prior to the hearing, Deep provided some schematic drawings to illustrate examples of what might be built if the Petition passes, but the text of the Petition itself allows a development several times the number and size of buildings depicted in the schematics.2 At the conclusion of the hearing, the Planning Board voted 3-2 against recommending that Town Meeting approve the Citizens Petition. On May 17, Town Meeting will be voting on the text of the Petition, not what is shown on any drawings or described verbally.
The lack of any square footage limitation on building size – coupled with the very large acreage size and reversible open space protection – raise serious concerns as to the overall scale and impact of this project. The Petition has departed significantly from the original concept of a small-scale Country Inn, for which a bylaw could have been drafted allowing a development envelope of approximately 3-5 acres (with subsurface infrastructure allowed outside the envelope).
WHAT THE CITIZENS PETITION ALLOWS
As noted above, local residents and officials and all five Planning Board members have consistently expressed support for the concept of a Country Inn at Waubeeka. But the Citizens Petition instead allows a much larger real estate development project. The Petition provides for ALL of the following:
- Allows a hotel or time-share development (plus accessory facilities) to cover up to 40 acres.That is far bigger than the Spring/Latham/Water/Main Streets block, which occupies about 26 acres. The Petition does not expressly mention the 40-acre figure. Instead, the Petition states that 80% of the parcel shall remain open space. Since the parcel is 200 acres, that leaves 20% of 200, or 40 acres, for this development.
- Allows multiple time-share buildings. The petition inserts a new definition of “Hotel” to include a building or group of buildings “in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Ch. 183B.” Chapter 183B is the state law known as the “Real Estate Time-Share Act”. The Petition does not limit the number of these buildings or their footprints (other than up to 40 acres in area).
- Imposes NO restriction on the square footage of the hotel or time-share buildings, or the number of rooms or time-share units. Time-share developments, including examples nearby, can be very large in scale, since each unit often contains a kitchen and living/dining areas. (Our current zoning bylaw does not allow kitchens in hotel units.)
- Changes the definition of “Hotel” throughout the entire Town. The Petition is written in such a way that the new definition of “Hotel” to allow time-shares is applicable to any hotel location in town, not just to Waubeeka. The consequences of this zoning change have never been analyzed by the Planning Board. We should not make this Town-wide change without some more serious evaluation, including the effects on our existing hospitality industry.3
- Requires that all resort development be built in a highly visible strip within 500 feet of Route 7. This provision provides no flexibility for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to require placement of the development in a less visible site farther back from Route 7 (but not on more visible higher ground). In addition, since the Petition retains the dimensional standards of the underlying RR2 district, the required setback from Route 7 for the new development is only 50 feet. (Deep’s schematics show a large hotel building at the 50-foot setback line, with parking facilities for 319 or 297 vehicles located even closer to Route 7.)
- Although the Petition refers to 80% “open space” defined as “areas left substantially in a natural or landscaped state,” it allows within the “open space” a number of permitted improvements, including “solar voltaic infrastructure and panels” and accessory buildings up to 600 square feet each.4 Deep’s letter to the Planning Board dated March 3, 2016 states his plans for “using 67 acres off Hole #13 as a solar farm”. The Petition does not limit the size or location of a solar array, except qualifying it as an “accessory use”. (The wording of the Petition could leave room for debate as to whether the size, location, and appearance of the solar farm and other improvements permitted within the “open space” category fall within the scope of the ZBA’s special permit review or are permitted as of right within the overlay district. All these matters should fall explicitly within the purview of ZBA review.)
- The Petition DOES NOT require that any land be permanently protected as open space, by means of a conservation restriction or otherwise. If the Town is going to allow such a significant development in a scenic rural residential area, it is reasonable to get meaningful protection of open space in return. Conservation restrictions are agreed to by many golf course owners (and other landowners) across the country5, and they are used elsewhere in Williamstown’s zoning bylaw as a condition of certain major residential developments.
- Provides that the open space protection shall expire if the developer surrenders his special permit (or if the permit is permanently revoked), thus allowing houses to be built in the future, after the hotel or time-share resort is closed. Deep’s March 3rd letter states his view that any open space protection afforded by the proposed bylaw applies “for so long as the hotel is in operation”. The expiration provision is especially troubling given the lack of any permanent open space protection.6
- Broadly defines Accessory Uses as “uses customarily accessory to New England resort hotel properties.” This poorly defined category, rather than an itemized listing, is so vague that it could pose a challenge for the ZBA to determine what is allowed. This definition also leaves the Town open to potential lawsuits if the ZBA interprets the size and types of permitted Accessory Uses more narrowly than does the developer. This category could be interpreted to allow the types of facilities offered, for example, at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.7
- Even though the Petition doesn’t expressly mention a wastewater treatment plant, Deep’s March 3rd letter states he told his architect to include a plan that would “create a wastewater treatment plant should the need arise”. Previous discussions had focused on an underground septic field. It is not clear in the Petition whether water and septic will be the responsibility of the landowner to provide on-site. If they are not, voters might be asked at a later Town Meeting to incur municipal debt in order to furnish these services to the development.
Deep asserts that his Petition will enhance Williamstown’s economy, by creating jobs and saving the Waubeeka golf course from the closure. We leave it to others to evaluate whether this proposal offers the financial benefits that have been advertised. Of course, we support thoughtful economic development8 and have both made efforts to enhance it, but we should not accept a developer’s proposed bylaw without examining it closely to identify features that could be of concern to the Town.
It’s also important to keep in mind the many years of careful planning and generous efforts that have contributed to retaining the beauty of Williamstown’s rural southern gateway.9 A Country Inn at Waubeeka could be entirely consistent with these efforts, but the expansive language contained in this Petition could jeopardize them. We urge a careful and more balanced approach to rezoning Waubeeka than is exemplified by the Citizens Petition.
1.His initial estimate of 2-3 acres is consistent with the estimates published by hotel development companies (Fairfield Inn and Suites, Hyatt House, and H&W Management) for new 80-140 room hotels with parking facilities – developments larger in scale than a “Country Inn” or “Country Inn Boutique.” Other amenities and facilities could increase acreage needs. Note: voters at Great Barrington’s 2008 Town Meeting adopted a zoning bylaw imposing a 45-room limit on new hotels and motels.
2.Deep displayed posters showing a resort occupying approximately 6 acres, whereas the Petition allows a 40-acre resort. He also had in-hand a copy of a document he referred to as a marketing study from STR (a benchmarking firm that provides analytic data), but Deep said that it was proprietary and that he could not provide copies to the Planning Board or public.
3. Although Parese explains he added this provision allowing time-shares at Waubeeka and hotels throughout Town to give hotels flexibility, there has been no evaluation of the impacts of this change. (Willinet tape of 1/12/16 PB Meeting 1:08:40-1:09:15; 3/15/16 PB Meeting 3:14:50-3:16:15.) Our zoning bylaw currently defines “Hotel or Motel” as “…providing transient sleeping accommodations to the general public in guest units without kitchens….”
4.The Petition describes a process whereby a developer shall submit a plan to the ZBA defining open space areas and building envelopes, and the special permit shall include “a condition approving and referencing the Open Space/Building Envelope Plan”. Any proposed bylaw should clarify that the ZBA would retain its ability to determine compliance with special permit criteria before approving the plan, as is generally the case with the ZBA’s exercise of authority under our zoning bylaws. (See 70-8.4(C)(3)).
5.A national association of golf course owners has worked to retain federal tax benefits for those courses upon which conservation restrictions are in place. (See http://perspective.ngcoa.org/home/2016/01/08/golfand-conservation-easements/).
6.Also, in the event the resort is partially or totally built and later fails, there is nothing in the Petition addressing how it should be decommissioned so as to avoid the Town being left with a large vacant resort complex. Other recent Williamstown zoning bylaws allowing development of wind turbines, cell towers and solar arrays include (1) requirements for the owner to remove the structures when they are no longer in use, and (2) measures to protect the Town from having to absorb the costs of removal and remediation in the future. (See 70-7.2G(7)(wind), 70-7.2F(11) (cell), and 70-7.2J(4)(b)(5)(solar)).
7.Proponents argue that, in general, the broad wording of the Petition should not be worrisome because the ZBA will ensure that all development is consistent with the special permit criteria set forth in our existing bylaw at 70.8-4(D) (which we believe may be cited incorrectly as 70-8.3(D) in the Petition). However, Town Meeting is the place where we establish the legal framework for ZBA review and consideration.
8.Note: The section of the December 2015 report of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) entitled “Core Assets and Community Values” states, “Any further economic development should be accomplished without detracting from the character of the town.” Also, the EDC recommended that the Town “Identify and protect the scenic and rural landscape and open spaces especially along the entrances to Williamstown.” (EDC Report at pp. 17-18, 52).
9.These include: The designation of this area as RR2 in the Town’s zoning bylaw, first adopted in 1955; the State’s 1982 Landscape Inventory; the Town’s and Commonwealth’s 1983 acquisition of an APR over Green River Farms; the 1984 bequest of Field Farm to The Trustees of Reservations; the Commonwealth’s designation in the 1990s of the nearby Green River Wildlife Management Area; the Town’s 2002 Master Plan; the Town’s 2003 draft Open Space Plan; the ongoing acquisitions by both the Town and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation of conservation restrictions over several nearby tracts of land; and the Town’s 2015 Economic Development Plan.
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