Hudson -- After a lengthy discussion the planning commission voted unanimously Aug. 11 to recommend a zoning map amendment on Boston Mills Road to allow new homes to be built. The request now moves to City Council for its consideration and a public hearing.

Prestige Homes requested the zoning map amendment, from District 6, business / industrial, to District 3, residential, to build on 90.63 acres of land located on the south side of Boston Mills Road. The land contains category 1, 2 and 3 wetlands.

"What we're proposing is an 88 single-family development," said Chris Brown, spokesperson for Prestige Homes.

Brown added Prestige was working with the parks for a trail plan through the development.

According to Brown, Prestige has obtained permits to fell the lesser sensitive wetland areas but the larger wetland areas were placed in a conservation easement.

"We certainly don't want to do anything to destroy the area," he said.

According to City Planner Greg Hannan, the request is a resubmission of Prestige's application reviewed by the planning commission but denied by City Council on May 7.

"This case has come to us so many times," said Planning Commission Chairman Joe Mulligan.

Brown agreed.

"This is not a new case. It's been before you before," he said.

Brown said when the request was presented to Council on May 7, Prestige requested additional time to respond to questions about traffic and environmental impacts but Council denied the request and voted on the redistricting issue. The vote was tied, 3-, so the request failed.

Since that vote, Prestige has conducted a traffic study, studied the impact on the schools and hired a firm to do an environmental impact study.

Several residents asked the commission to consider the effects development would have on Hudson's water supply.

Residents voice concern

Curt Van Blarcum, who identified himself as a former city arborist and a long standing member of the Hudson Land Conservancy Committee, presented a lengthy report on the effects of land use changes on hydrology. He suggested the planning commission "support the health of the aquifer."

Commission chairman Joe Mulligan said the case before the commission was "to change from one zoning to another, not whether (the property) should or should not be built on.

Van Blarcum added the acreage in question is a "challenged property for any kind of development" but suggested the commission keep it as district 6.

Karen Leith, representing the Hudson League of Woman Voters, suggested the commission and City Council "look at the bigger picture" when considering rezoning and its effects on the wetlands and the city's water supply.

A report prepared by Mark Richardson, Community Development Director, indicated the proposed 90-acre map amendment parcel is located outside of the city's wellhead protection area, which is the LWV's main concern.

Leith added the question wasn't between residential and industrial but whether the additional development was needed.

"Do we really need to add this piece by rezoning it for 88 homes?" she asked.

"There's been a great deal of information provided tonight," said commission member Tom Harvie.

He thanked all those who had participated in the discussion but concluded: "The question before us is clear and precise: should it be Zone 6 or Zone 3. Zone 6 won't be developed at all."

"Low density residential would be the way to go. I'm in favor of the rezoning," Harvie added.

Commission member Mike Chuparkhoff asked Brown how long Prestige had owned the property.

"We've owned the property for 26 years," Brown said. "It was zoned residential -- before the merger. The zoning was changed to industrial from residential in 1988."

Brown said if the property had been industrial they would not have purchased it.

"Has Prestige ever been approached by land conservancies?" Chuparkhoff asked.

"We did talk to a number, but they weren't at a point to make a purchase," Brown said.

The commission received two letters suggesting the public hearing should be postponed and a decision delayed but commission member Rob Kagler said he believed the commission followed the same procedures it had always followed.

"This is the fourth time this body had heard this in the last 10 months," Kagler said. "I applaud the citizens becoming involved."

Kagler said he had all the information needed to make a decision on the proposal.

"This property is not in the wellhead protection area. Yes, it's near it. The wetlands are not going to be built on. No one is building on the flood plain," Kagler said. "No matter how it's zoned, trees will be removed, streets will be built."


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