What now for Pierceville?

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Editor, Smithfield Times

    The many petitioners against the proposed intensive build-out of the Pierceville Farm applaud Town Council’s 5-2 vote to deny the Change to Future Land Use Map of the Comprehensive Plan. The Town’s legal notice in the Smithfield Times prior to the November 2015 public hearings convey that the proposal, if approved, would have changed designated land use for the majority of the acreage from “Parks and Recreation” to “Suburban Residential.” While Town Officials have insisted for some time that land-use change for Pierceville does not relate directly to re-zoning, common sense, the orchestration of the follow-on hearing for conditional re-zoning, and prevailing law (Article 4/Zoning) suggest otherwise.

    No one among us believes we have achieved a “victory.” At best, Council’s vote (taken amidst curious parliamentary maneuvering that accorded the last word to the Developer’s attorney) simply offers a window-of-opportunity for viable alternatives to surface, to be coordinated, and to be debated. The issue of Ms. Crocker’s right to sell her property is acknowledged by all. Fortunately, Article 1 (Constitution) of the Zoning Ordinance prohibits acquirers’ prerogatives to effect property uses that impinge upon, or harm, the present quality-of-life of the Town’s residents. Make no mistake: an intensive 151-home build-out in the Historic District on 38 developable acres, without the infrastructure to support, does irreconcilable harm.

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    We now call upon other experienced and talented residents of the county and town to step forward to finalize and implement a viable plan for “Pierceville 2035” and beyond that begins with preserving existing structures, acquisition of the property and securing funding that supports a thoughtful, achievable vision.

    John Burnham’s “Outline Proposal” delineates three core themes: horticultural/agricultural, educational, and historical. Initial feedback from numerous local residents and business owners is that John is “spot on.” Hopefully, each of us will work constructively to provide near-term support and to enable long-term implementation.

Mark Gay