Greenfield city councilor asks to reconsider zoning vote

  • The former Mackin property, now owned by Ceruzzi Properties, off the French King Highway in Greenfield, was one of 11 that was proposed to be rezoned to allow for more industrial development. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A view looking south down the French King Highway in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/29/2022 3:47:07 PM

GREENFIELD — The proposed expansion of the industrial development zone near Route 2 may be up for reconsideration next month, following at least one councilor’s interest in reconsidering her vote after last week’s City Council meeting.

“It took me awhile to answer that night,” recounted At-Large Councilor Penny Ricketts, who voted against the proposed change at the Dec. 21 meeting. “I really am focused on better jobs, so I really want it to be industrial. A number of my colleagues were saying it can happen right now by special permit. … That was the reason I voted ‘no.’”

The zoning amendment ultimately failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote at that meeting, with only three votes in support (At-Large Councilor Philip Elmer, Precinct 7 Councilor Jasper Lapienski and At-Large Councilor Michael Terounzo) and eight votes against. City Council President Sheila Gilmour and Precinct 9 Councilor Derek Helie were absent.

Councilors can file a motion for reconsideration by 5 p.m. the Friday after a vote is taken, according to City Council Administrative Assistant Tammy Marciel. Ricketts’ motion for reconsideration was filed with the City Clerk’s Office on Friday morning.

Given the Planning Board’s previous recommendation on the proposed zoning change, City Council does not have to wait two years before considering it again; therefore, it can return to City Council in its original form.

The proposal, introduced over the summer by Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, involved a zoning change for 48 acres, or 11 parcels, located on the French King Highway from General Commercial, which provides for mixed retail, to Planned Industry, which is meant for manufacturing and industrial development. The 11 parcels this zone encompasses includes the land owned by Ceruzzi Properties where a 135,000-square-foot big box store was long proposed. That land is still under lease by Stop & Shop.

“Light industry, manufacturing or processing plants” are currently allowed by special permit in the General Commercial district, according to Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog.

Although the proposal was initially met with significant support, residents and councilors alike began to express hesitation later in the process, largely due to the limiting effect the change would have.

“I once described this proposal as a no-brainer,” Elmer said to fellow councilors last week. “This is not a no-brainer. The property in question is layered with bitter town history. There may be no piece of real estate with more blood, sweat and tears than this 48 acres of property on the French King Highway.”

Proponents have argued that revising the zoning map would allow for the growth of the city’s advanced manufacturing base and address a documented lack of industrial land in Franklin County.

Councilors who voted against the proposal, however, argued that the change would eliminate the potential growth of mixed-used development for retail and housing.

“I understand the whole part about housing,” Ricketts said. “I’m not even thinking about retail at all. I’m not concerned what (Valley Steel Stamp) makes for products. They have been a good employer in this town and have hired so many people.”

Steve Capshaw, CEO and president of Valley Steel Stamp, has been a strong proponent of the proposed zoning change. On at least one occasion, he shared with city officials expansion plans for his company — an expansion that would bring upward of 400 jobs to the city.

“This is about not messing up that opportunity to get some good-paying jobs here,” Ricketts said. “And I hope it attracts other industry.”

The vote for reconsideration will be an agenda item at the coming Committee Chairs meeting, which sets the City Council agendas each month, according to Marciel.

“We’ll have a conversation,” Ricketts said. “I’ll listen to my colleagues. Maybe they’ll have me not wanting to change my vote, but right now I’m leaning to the side of ‘yes.’ I want industrial and as many good-paying jobs as we can get in Greenfield.”

In an earlier version of this article, the policy regarding a re-vote on a zoning change brought to City Council was incorrectly reported. As the proposed zoning change was forwarded to City Council with a positive recommendation from the Planning Board, it is not subject to the two-year zoning change freeze.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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