Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bisbort questions town staff

I nearly missed this opinion piece that recently ran in the MRJ. Penned by Cheshire's Alan Bisbort... whether you support or oppose the proposed ND... if you're interested in what's happening in the north end of town... you'll find this piece a must-read. It begins:

Recently, two things occurred in Cheshire that could have a profound impact on the town's future. And, yes, they both relate - directly and indirectly - to the shopping mall that has been proposed for the north end of town, the largest development in Cheshire's history.

First, the town lost Lisa Murphy as its Assistant Town Planner. Murphy had worked in the Planning Office for 17 years, during which time she lived in Cheshire and cared deeply about the wise use of land in her town. She was a model of responsive public service and she did not play politics or favorites. Indeed, many town residents were surprised and disappointed that she was not hired as Cheshire's Town Planner when Richard Pfurr retired after a long and distinguished career in 2005. One can't blame Murphy for looking elsewhere for a job more worthy of her skills, and, of course, she was hired as planner for the city of Keene, N.H., putting to rest any doubts about whether she was "qualified" to be Cheshire Town Planner. Cheshire's loss is Keene's gain.

And finishes up:

There are a lot of things that don't make sense in Cheshire, starting with this mall in the north end.

And for the entire piece, click here to learn more of Alan's view.

Alan Bisbort is 100% right. This development makes no sense as proposed. Perhaps with gas hitting $4/gallon (and rising!)... some Town officials will start to wise up and recognize that "sustainability issues" are for real... and we need to start addressing them by mandating onsite power generation and minimizing impervious surfaces, etc.?? (remember... we bent over backwards for these guys in the first place.)

Oh wait... silly me... maybe it's just that neither Alan nor I ever got the memo:

I bet Obi-Wan would've hated the blogosphere.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

The Town Planning Staff got a break from some citizens on the ND proposal. They didn't look out for the best interest of Cheshire as they promised. The project gets bigger and more complicated. Moving 50 acres of land is another change to our "Zone Text" with short notice to the public and zero imput. They (Lawyers & Developer) keep using the same excuse that it needs to change. Why to their benefit only? There is a river that runs between the two pieces of land that is beautiful. What will happen to this with millions of yards of soil to be moved around? Nobody knows and nobody cares especially our elected officials and Town staff. I have given them a fair chance. They blew it for the $$$$$. Look at Southington with all the retail taxes etc and they are cutting their education budget. Where's the beef? There is none except for the developers etc. We the citizens get the shaft and a polluted river which will never be the same. Thank you Town staff and all our local legal experts for looking out for the best interest of Cheshire. Where will you be in 10 years?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be nice if both our paid and elected officials were diligent in acting in the best interests of the people they are suppose to serve. Why aren't they concerned in protecting us from the greedy developers who can only think of how many dollars they can make from transforming every open parcel into asphalt and roofing.I'm not saying all officials are like this, but some key ones are, like Milone, Voelker, Sitko, the P&Z people that didn't care about the serious impact that the W/S mall will have not only on the landscape, the environment and the daily lives of their neihbors, and the Dem Town Council majority that always votes in favor of the interests of our local developers/realtors, especially owners of the ND property to be developed by W/S.

Fazzone is now asking P&Z to make more zoning text changes that will remove even more important restrictions on how developers can operate. These restrictions are not off the wall ideas that were dreamt up just to make it difficult on the poor developers. They were carefully thought out with a view of what is the right thing to do and not simply how it might inconvenience the developers. Our zoning regulations have served us well and P&Z must not further erode them no matter what the delelopers or Voelker want.

One of the biggest changes they want is to elimate is the restriction that no more than 5 acres can be excavated at a time. This is good rule that protects the environment and neighboring property. There are 400 acres in the ND and some other large remaining parcels in Cheshire. Say the 5 acre rule is eliminated and the developer bulldozes the entire property and we just happen to get a major storm or hurricane, we would see major damage to the environment and to adjoining property owners.

Or, say the developer decides to stop the development or goes bankrupt right after they have made extensive excavations. In this case who would clean things up? Do the owners come, like they did with the tunnel collapse, to the town and ask the town and state to assume the problem?

So the question is, will the same pro-developer P&Z members show their continuing lack of concern for the interests of the people of Cheshire or will they do their job.

Is Inland Wetlands going to reconsider their approval of the W/S proposal if the 5 acre rule is changed? If they don't, this surely is a backdoor tactic and it might explain why W&S's original proposal did not include these additional changes.

tim white said...

Milone, Voelker, Sitko

Please leave Sitko out of your comments. I feel there's no basis for them.

And here's my feeling on the TM & TP:

In December I asked staff to provide the PZC with additional numbers for the "fiscal impact study."

Specifically, I asked Milone to provide data on the "secondary impact" of the residential component of the ND.

I figure since W/S said they expect most of the 160 (???) units to be sold to current Cheshire residents, it was appropriate to ask for the "fiscal impact" of the "secondary effects."

W/S acknowledged my question by saying something about they don't always get asked for that data.

By virtue of the response, I knew they wouldn't be providing any numbers.

So I asked staff to provide the numbers.

I've been told by PZC members, that the information that I requested by provided to the PZC was never provided.

And since Voelker is staff to the PZC... and Milone presented the fiscal impact study... I believe it is fair to say that they are not interested in providing the people of Cheshire with all relevant information... (nothing unusual... staff have withheld information about the cop in Wolcott, the meningitis at the pool, and more recently... the corruption memo. Remember... control the information and you control the agenda.)

And I believe that is because the data I requested would likely strengthen opposition to the residential component of the project.

For the aforementioned reasons...

I believe Milone and Voelker are both big proponents of this project.

So I'll let your comments about their support fly, but...

I see absolutely no evidence that Jerry Sitko supports or opposes this project. He has a job... he does his job. He may support the project in full... or he may not...

but I know there are a lot of people in town hall who are doing as they are told... rather than what they believe... and I wouldn't fault them for that at all. They have families to feed, etc.

and if you're wondering about the level of discontent among staff with the town's senior management...

go ask why the cops are quitting...

oh wait... these aren't the droids you're looking for. move along.

tim white said...

I've been told by PZC members

For clarity... Maidelis and Dawson

Anonymous said...

The more you dig into this the more twisted it becomes. How do we accept the impact study by our own Town staff? Do you think it was fair and balanced? Do they have experience in this field? I think not. We will probably see more surprises. Stay tuned. Our "Zone Text" will be remained to "Anything Goes".

tim white said...

11:18... stop asking so many questions!

Didn't you get the memo?

These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

(btw, while I assume most of you have seen Star Wars... Office Space is another classic... at least within my demographic age group.)

tim white said...

As for staff though... the real problem isn't staff... it's the Rubber Stampers who absolutely refuse to critically analyze any staff initiative.

Anonymous said...

Seems like this whole North End deal is just a big "Bait and Switch"

Watch with retail being in the tank they don't reconfigure the proposal for 500 units of soon to be Section 8 apartments. And Marty Coburn will insist they town will make out financially better than the original plan. .

Anonymous said...

We might all qualify for low income housing soon the way things are going. When is this going to stop?

Anonymous said...

For clarity... Maidelis and Dawson

For clarity, it was Dawson who in the deliberation phase of the W/S application kept raising the issue that the 5 acre restriction would cause a hardship on the developer. Dawson was asking if P&Z could waive the requirement.

Also, every single vote by Dawson, Maidelis, Cobern, Strollo, Kurtz, Kadaras and Flynn-Harris was for everything that W/S and the owners of the property wanted. The whole process was carefully engineered including Milone's impact analysis.

The only people who stood up for the town were Marinaro and Maye.

And I am certain that Sitko was for this development from the start. Did anyone hear him raise any questions?

tim white said...

Dawson, Maidelis, Cobern, Strollo, Kurtz, Kadaras and Flynn-Harris

I don't think Tali has voted on anything to do with the ND. He was elected in November and was ineligible to vote in January.

I recall the January vote was:

In favor:

Flynn Harris, Strollo, Kurtz, Todisco, Cobern, Dawson, Kardaras (alt)


Maye (alt), Marinaro (alt)

Slocum would've voted, but resigned the PZC to serve on the Council. His seat was later filled by Veleber.

Maidelis and McPhee have not yet voted on anything related to the ND... I think... can anyone correct me?

Anonymous said...

One question was raised by one of the P&Z members that seemed to look out for the town interest and he didn't run for re-election. Everyone else played dumb.