Satan’s Kingdom, LLC has withdrawn its application to change 30 of its 39 acres of land along Route 44 from residential to industrial.
The proposal was the subject of a Sept. 17 Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing at which numerous residents spoke against the plan. The withdrawal means that the hearing will not continue on Oct. 15 as originally scheduled, said town planner Neil Pade. (The commission will still meet).
Developer Allan Borghesi offered the following statement via email, “I have withdrawn due to the extreme concern that was expressed at the public meeting. I believe that Canton residences erred in the opposition and lost an opportunity to benefit the tax base and business climate. I am reviewing the options and will decide in the next weeks what would be best to propose on the land use.”
In July, Satan’s Kingdom, LLC formally applied to re-zone 30.386 of its 38.99 acres at 674, 684 Albany Turnpike from residential to industrial. In June, the New Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission granted a change for 18.47 acres of abutting property.
Borghesi said he planned a responsible development of industrial uses that would not harm the river, or negatively impact home values and the area. He also said it would provide much-needed jobs and taxes to the area.
The proposal drew fierce opposition from numerous residents. Opponents circulated local and online petitions, made signs, wrote letters and started a Save Satan’s Kingdom Facebook page. Numerous residents spoke at the hearing and the commission only heard from about a third of those who wanted to speak. Residents called the proposal a threat to the Farmington River, property values, the character of the area and more.
Borghesi also presented the plan at the beginning of the hearing. (See more in this previous story, which includes a video from the meeting).
Prior to that September hearing, the town’s Economic Development Agency recommended that Borghesi file for a design district application, rather than industrial. The design district would involve a master plan that considers such factors as a design compatibility with Canton’s historic, cultural and geographic qualities, buffers or transitional areas, a mix of compatible uses, breaking up the mass and scale of large areas and lots to reduce visual impacts, a safe and comfortable pedestrian scale environment and flexible and innovative design techniques. Borghesi expressed some concern that the process could potentially become overly burdensome.
At the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing, some commissioners also asked pointed questions about the design district idea and Borghesi said he’d be willing to apply for it but continued to express concern on the potential for it to be burdensome.
As the news of the withdrawal spread rapidly through social media Thursday, many opponents expressed elation at the news but others were more cautious, stating that they didn’t know what would come next.
While Borghesi at the last meeting said he was willing to work with the town on a design district, he’s also indicated subdividing for housing would be his back-up plan. Borghesi has also indicated on numerous occasions that the ridge behind the farm field will be partially leveled no matter what type of development occurs at the property, an idea that has drawn the ire of many in the area.
One resident who has been involved in fighting the proposal is Kevin Baldwin.
“I did see the news and am satisfied with this interim outcome,” he emailed to Canton Compass Thursday night.
“We’re all delighted that Mr. Borghesi decided to withdraw his rezoning application,” said Tim Healy. “We hope that we can work amicably together, town, citizens and developer, to achieve good ends.”
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