Proposed industrial zoning expansion heading to Greenfield City Council

  • Greenfield Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog shares a zoning map with city officials and members of the public at the John Zon Community Center on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

  • The Interstate 91 Industrial Park in Greenfield. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2022 5:36:15 PM

GREENFIELD — Following a joint public hearing with the Economic Development Committee Thursday evening, the Planning Board voted unanimously to send a positive recommendation to City Council on the proposed expansion of the industrial development zone near Route 2.

With just a few speakers in attendance at the John Zon Community Center — all of whom spoke favorably of the proposal — the vote continues the process forward for the expansion, which would come in the form of rezoning 11 parcels east of King Road and north of the French King Highway that are currently zoned as General Commercial, which provides an area for mixed retail. The process itself was initiated by the Planning Board in September, following a presentation by Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, who has argued that revising the zoning map would allow for the growth of the city’s advanced manufacturing base.

The five-member Economic Development Committee, however, which was short two councilors Thursday evening, opted to wait for a future meeting to continue deliberations. Precinct 5 Councilor Marianne Bullock said she was aware of several residents, including Precinct 9 Councilor and subcommittee member Derek Helie, who anticipated the meeting would take place in a hybrid format, which would allow for broader participation than an in-person meeting.

“I think we’ve heard a lot of good information tonight,” said Planning Board Chair Charles Roberts, adding that the issue should be considered fairly with respect to the “deal” made in exchange for votes for the library in 2019.

He was referencing the agreed-upon relaxation of zoning restrictions for development on the French King Highway and for large-scale projects, in exchange for support for the new Greenfield Public Library. The deal was enough to sway undecided city councilors to vote in favor of building a new library, the construction for which is underway on Main Street.

“Leaving politics and who voted for what when, I think the intent was ‘Let’s try and stimulate economic development in that area,’” said Planning Board member Nathanial Hussey. “What hasn’t happened since then is any kind of economic development in that area, which now I’m hearing there is an opportunity if we change the zone.”

Existing businesses in the Interstate 91 Industrial Park include Summit Ice, Valley Steel Stamp, Northeast Biodiesel and BETE Fog Nozzle.

Speaking in support of the expansion, Valley Steel Stamp President Steve Capshaw said his company is ready to expand — but buildable land in western Massachusetts is hard to come by.

“We want to build where our employees are,” he said.

The 11 parcels this zone encompasses, which amount to 40 to 50 acres, include 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.

“I understand people want retail,” Capshaw commented. “But that’s just a wish; it will never come true. … Stop & Shop is never going to let that land go … if it’s anything it has to compete with. Once it’s zoned industrial, industrial companies can go into a lease with them.”

Wedegartner echoed Capshaw’s sentiment.

“The problem the city has is we’d like to grow our tax base, and the best way to grow our tax base and provide livable wage jobs is to attract as much manufacturing and industry as we can,” she said.

Though the Planning Board ultimately voted unanimously to send a positive recommendation to City Council, member David Chichester said he had hoped to see more people in attendance.

“I’m disappointed we don’t have more people here at the public hearing,” Chichester said, “because I was really hoping to hear more reasons why we might not want to do this … to help balance the ledger here.”

The Economic Development Committee will further discuss the proposed zoning change on Dec. 13, after which it will head to the full City Council for a vote.

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


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