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Selectmen to Get Appraisal for Route 44 Property Before Deciding on a Direction for Public Works Facility

The issue of a new public works facility is again a hot topic in town. Photo by John Fitts

The issue of a new public works facility is again a hot topic in town.
Photo by John Fitts

Update: the garage survey is now online and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CBQSBRQ

By John Fitts 

CANTON – Town selectmen are looking to get an appraisal on the so-called “Satan’s Kingdom” property on Route 44 before they decide whether to pursue it for a public works facility project or move forward with an idea to rebuild at the current site on Old River Road.

Specifically, selectmen want to see how the property’s appraised value stacks against the $1.2 million the property owner is seeking for the 39 acres of land on Route 44, specifically known as 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike (Route 44).

“I think it’s a crucial piece of information,” selectmen Bill Canny said during Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday and he and his colleagues voted to spend up to $2,000 for the appraisal. (Expected cost is between $1,200 and $1,500).

In light of years of failed referendums and a rapidly deteriorating facility, the town earlier this year developed a plan to rebuild its “town garage” at the current site near the Farmington River. The idea was to construct a 15,000 square foot facility, provide a new access road from 179 and enhance river access and recreational facilities.

While selectmen have discussed that idea at length this year, it has received some public criticism but is still on the table.

In recent weeks, selectmen have also discussed the Route 44 property, the site of a bitter controversy in 2014 when developer Allan Borghesi proposed an industrial park on the land. The property is now owned by an LLC managed by members of the Bahre family. … Continue Reading

‘Satan’s Kingdom’ Property Changes Hands

A portion of the Satan's Kingdom site along Route 44 in Canton.

A portion of the Satan’s Kingdom site along Route 44 in Canton.

By John Fitts 

Members of a well known Canton family have purchased the “Satan’s Kingdom” property along Route 44 on which Torrington developer Allan Borghesi had once proposed to build an industrial park spanning Canton and New Hartford.

Earlier this month, New Hartford Marketplace, LLC, of which Henry J. Bahre, John H. Bahre and Daniel K. Bahre are members, purchased the property, which includes more than 50 acres of land in Canton and New Hartford, from Satan’s Kingdom, LLC., managed by Borghesi. The sale, one of two main property exchanges between the parties, also included some easements and minor lot line adjustments with a neighboring landowner. Paperwork from both towns indicates that the total price was $700,000.

Borghesi’s  proposal to change the zoning on the property from residential to industrial was granted for the New Hartford portion but, after much controversy, he withdrew a similar application in Canton. He later informally discussed a plan for housing but never actually applied for such a use.  … Continue Reading

Satan’s Kingdom, LLC Owner Discusses Housing Plan but Says Conservation is Possible Under the Right Conditions

The housing plan Allan Borghesi has discussed with the town. This, however, is not part of an official application.

The housing plan Allan Borghesi has discussed with the town. This, however, is not part of an official application.

While developer Allan Borghesi moved a step closer Wednesday toward a plan for a small housing development on Satan’s Kingdom, LLC property along Route 44 in Canton, he also said conservation was still a possibility if a plan involved timeliness, guaranteed funding and the right price.

The comments came during and after a “pre-application review” at the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday night.

Borghesi informally presented a concept for a 9-home subdivision on a portion of the 39 Canton acres owned by Satan’s Kingdom, LLC, Most of the homes would be along a 600-foot access road near Route 44 and one on top of the ridgeline further back would utilize a long driveway where a partial dirt road exists now. Approximately 15 acres in the rear would be conserved, he said. … Continue Reading

Satan’s Kingdom, LLC Owner Floats Concept of No Mining and Building Fewer Than a Dozen Homes in Canton, Mostly Near Route 44

The concept plan introduced Wednesday night.  Courtesy of Allan Borghesi

The concept plan introduced Wednesday night.
Courtesy of Allan Borghesi

By John Fitts 

While there is no formal application or final plan at this point, Allan Borghesi of Satan’s Kingdom, LLC and Borghesi Building and Engineering on Wednesday floated the idea of building fewer than a dozen homes on the Canton portion of his Route 44 property, mostly near the road, scrapping plans to take down the ridge and conserving a portion of the land.

Borghesi mentioned the concept, complete with a drawing, at the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday night. It came during a commission discussion that it possible pursue an application to change zoning on the some Route 44 properties from R-2 residential (one to one-and-a-half-acre lots) to R-4 residential (4 to 6 acres). Included in the concept were 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike, owned by Satan’s Kingdom LLC. … Continue Reading

Letter to the Editor: Canton Land Trust – no deal on Satan’s Kingdom

Some Canton residents have come under the impression that the Canton Land Conservation Trust (CLCT) “made a deal” and agreed to accept land if the Satan’s Kingdom zoning change were granted. Such an impression is not accurate. In order to set the record straight, the CLCT co-presidents have posted a special statement on the CLCT website, www.cantonlandtrust.org, the full text of which is as follows:

… Continue Reading

Satan’s Kingdom, LLC Withdraws Application To Re-zone Property Along Route 44

The front of the Canton property as seen from Route 44.

The front of the Canton property as seen from Route 44.

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.  … Continue Reading

For Satan’s Kingdom Issue, The Devil Could Be in the Details

As an area businessman touted and numerous residents decried a planned industrial development along Route 44 Wednesday night, pressure continued to mount for a more narrowly defined zoning plan.

Wednesday night marked the beginning of a Canton Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing on Satan Kingdom, LLC’s application to rezone 30.386 of its 38.99 acres at 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike from residential to industrial. While the application is technically just for a zoning map amendment, much of the discussion centers on whether the change — and what could potentially happen on the property — is consistent with the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

… Continue Reading

Notes from the Sept. 17 Canton Planning and Zoning Meeting (Satan’s Kingdom, LLC Hearing Continued to Oct. 15)

Residents attend a public hearing on the Satan's Kingdom, LLC proposal.

Residents attend a public hearing on the Satan’s Kingdom, LLC proposal.

The Canton Planning and Zoning Commission has continued a public hearing on Satan Kingdom, LLC’s application to rezone 30.386 of its 38.99 acres in Canton (674, 684 Albany Turnpike) from residential to industrial.

After hearing from managing member Allan Borghesi, his attorney and numerous residents, the commission continued the matter to its next regular meeting on Oct. 15.

Editor’s Note: The text that follows below represents live updates typed during the meeting, intended only to give a general sense of what was happening. A story and/or video will follow. Also for those commenting on the site, please use first and last names. I only ask that due to experience with commenting while with a previous employer. Thank you.  … Continue Reading

Canton EDA Recommends Satan’s Kingdom, LLC Developer Pursue a ‘Design District’ Master Plan

A conceptual plan for the 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike.  Courtesy of Borghesi Building.

A conceptual plan for the 674 and 684 Albany Turnpike.
Courtesy of Borghesi Building.

The town’s Economic Development Agency has recommended that a developer looking to build an industrial park on Route 44 near the Farmington River apply for a master plan under the design district portion of the Canton zoning regulations rather than seek a change to an industrial zone.

Satan’s Kingdom, LLC has applied for a Zoning map amendment to change 30.386 of its 38.99 acres in Canton (674, 684 Albany Turnpike) from residential to industrial. The matter is slated for public hearing Wednesday night.

A district has separate requirements than any specific zone in the town’s regulations.

A 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. … Continue Reading

Letter to the Editor: Saving Satan’s Kingdom

A public hearing is scheduled in Canton on Wednesday, Sept. 17, regarding the proposed Satan’s Kingdom zone change from residential to industrial. The new property owner, Allan Borghesi, states that if successful in his application for the zone change, he plans to build a six building industrial park in Canton abutting the two building one that he has had approved in New Hartford.

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.

Lynn Hunter

Mohawk Drive

Canton

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