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Town: Proposed zoning amendment ‘illegal’

Recorder file photo
The area known as White Ash Swamp, in the lower left side of the photo, is part of the original Mackin property that is slated for development of a big box store along the French King Highway in Greenfield. White Ash Swamp is believed by some to be a reburial site for Native American remains.

Recorder file photo The area known as White Ash Swamp, in the lower left side of the photo, is part of the original Mackin property that is slated for development of a big box store along the French King Highway in Greenfield. White Ash Swamp is believed by some to be a reburial site for Native American remains.

GREENFIELD — It appears a proposed zoning amendment that would regulate major development by sending every large project to voters for approval has been stopped “dead in its tracks” by state and local laws, according to some town officials.

Garrett Connelly, the same man who has proposed a ban on plastic bags and small plastic water bottles, needed to collect 10 signatures on a petition to bring it forward to the town for consideration.

Connelly, in his proposal, suggested that a project like the big box store planned on French King Highway, would go to voters for approval.

According to his proposal, all nine precincts would have to vote on a major project and if the town as a whole or the precinct where the project was proposed voted “no,” a developer could not return with another proposal for almost two years.

“The town and its attorney believe such a zoning amendment would actually be illegal,” said Eric Twarog. “It does not comply with the town’s charter or state law.”

Town Clerk Maureen Winseck said she does not believe the proposal will ever reach the Town Council for a vote.

Planning Board Chairwoman Roxanne Wedegartner said though it appears the amendment would affect only large-scale development, it could affect other projects as well.

Wedegartner said, for instance, the hotel proposed for Wilson’s Department Store would not fall under such a local law as proposed, but if it got any larger it would.

Connelly said he would like to see the town amend its founding charter so that residents who live closest to proposed large developments would have more say about those projects.

“We’d like to see all residents have a say,” he said.

Connelly said he and others involved will decide whether they are committed to changing the charter and may bring that idea to the town.

“There will be a reaction from us,” said Connelly. “We are just trying to give our community the strength to face corporatism and want to give our own (small) businesses a chance.”

“We’ll be working on this,” he said.

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