Published DateTo the editor,
A flyer has been mailed to residents of Plymouth urging voters to approve three petitioned warrant articles which would amend the zoning ordinance to prohibit development on the land across from the intersection of Highland St. and Tenney Mountain Highway. This effort has been ongoing for several years. It began when abutters objected to the siting of a Lowe's store on this parcel. After a lengthy hearing process and extensive studies, the Planning Board and Zoning Board each concluded that town ordinances permitted the proposed development and that it was consistent with the Master Plan. The planning and zoning boards were sued in the Superior Court which upheld the boards' decisions. This decision was appealed by the Batchelders to the N.H. Supreme Court, which upheld the Superior Court order in May, 2010. This final court order paved the way for the development to proceed, but Lowe's was no longer interested.
More recently, the Planning Board has approved two projects on this site which are underway. It is likely that further economic development on this parcel may occur in the near future, and Market Basket is very interested in building a store on this site. The individuals who fought the Lowe's project do not want this to happen, and are trying to change the rules in the middle of the game by amending the zoning ordinance. They make erroneous arguments in support of these articles.
One is that the town's future water supply will be put at risk. This is not true. The Plymouth Water and Sewer District has searched unsuccessfully for water in this area in the past, and is now looking elsewhere.
Another is that the flood hazard will be greater. This is not true either. State and federal laws require that the net effect of any development be flood neutral. The developer proposes to bring fill from the side of the site near the river to the area nearer the road, just as they are doing with the present sites. This proposed movement of fill, partially from the Environmentally Sensitive Zone, was the basic issue which led to the lengthy litigation, now resolved.
We also need to be aware of the unintended consequences of these articles. Though aimed at the McGinley land, these articles, if approved, will also severely limit the ability of anyone else on the north side of the highway to do anything with their land, as the articles seek to prohibit the movement of any earth within 500 feet of the river.
The land in question is a prime site in an excellent location. Market Basket is not interested in being anywhere else. They also want to be welcomed in the community, and are not interested in becoming embroiled in a legal battle. We have a choice with this vote to welcome a substantial new member to the community which will bring about 300 jobs to town. I believe it is time to put the issue concerning this land to rest by voting no on the three petitioned warrant articles. If you have any questions about this, feel free to call me.
Selectman Mike Conklin