Stopping or not stopping this change should not affect whether or not the ridge between the river and route 44 comes down. The developer has stated that he would need to grade the ridge down to a height of 20′ to develop for either zone. That is another matter to be decided later by the planning and zoning commission.
Allowing the zone change will move development farther away from the river, with the first building beginning a distance of 400+ feet away. If the zone change to industrial is passed, there will be an 8 acre undeveloped conservation easement between the buildings and the river which is not the case if it is kept residential. The conservation area has been included as part of the Industrial Park application, but it’s zone will remain residential in any case. The developer has said he would donate this area outright to a land conservation organization if this was preferred over the easement. Including the abutting area of New Hartford there would be a 12.5 acre untouched conservation area which would be protected forever from being developed. It would include a large section of ‘Wild and Scenic’ river frontage. Under the stewardship of a land trust this area would remain in it’s natural state. Much of the wildlife that has been seen there-bobcats, foxes, bears, eagles, deer and others-could continue to exist. Canton’s industrial buildings would not be seen from the river because of this buffer.
If it is defeated, and the land remains residential, that easement will no longer be in place since the conservation easement is a part of the Industrial zone application only. There will be residences built there instead, built much closer to the river. Houses are even less protective of the river. Owners will not have the restrictions of industrial buildings and may use legal fertilizers and pesticides that will go directly to the water. Environment for existing wildlife would be removed for housing. It will be a housing development.
Building a 1 acre residential sub-division will make our population grow, not resulting in our town retaining its rural character. With industrial buildings the town can add restrictions making landscaping to block their visibility mandatory, preserving some of that rural feel.
The property is bought and is going to be developed one way or another unless it can be purchased outright by a large organization, pursuing state or federal grants for preserving land, or some other means.
Stopping the zone change will allow housing there. It will not protect Satan’s kingdom. It will not protect either the river or wildlife. It will allow houses to be built closer to the river and take away an easement which would keep a 12 plus acre area untouched. Is that a win?
Look at the papers in the past few weeks. Note all the fighting to prevent loss of all our natural land to development-Rentschler Field, ‘The Preserve’ in Old Saybrook among others. What are we doing? Responsible development does not mean developing in places of beauty and taking away environments important to our native wildlife.
That’s just wrong.