The Cheshire Town Council has voted to change the town's plan of conservation and development to allow for more growth on a stretch of Highland Avenue from East and West Johnson avenues to Creamery Road, which planners say is a challenge for developers.
If approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, this district could allow commercial businesses such as restaurants or offices there, but not residential development. As things stand, nearly all the affected properties are zoned industrial.
This could be a great thing for development in the north end of town, provided that environmental issues receive due consideration — the district would allow flexibility when building on properties that have large wetlands. The potential for increased traffic congestion along Highland Avenue (Route 10) also needs to be considered.
Town Planner William Voelker said some of the undeveloped property on the east side of Highland Avenue is a challenge for builders under the current regulations.
One such property is the nearly 50 acres owned by Eversource south of Fieldstone Court. Voelker said it's awkwardly shaped and bisected by wetlands, making development difficult.
Town Council Chairman Rob Oris thought the district could bring businesses that will grow the grand list and also provide services that people can't get in town.
On the other hand, Councilor Tom Ruocco, who voted against the new district, said some of his constituents don't want to see retail built up on Route 10.
But while commercial development in that portion of Highland Avenue could result in more traffic congestion, Voelker said he hopes the district will encourage good design as well as shared entrances to reduce the number of driveways and improve access between developments.
Given the wetlands and traffic concerns, it is to be hoped that a careful and thorough process will lead to an enhanced grand list while avoiding undesirable side effects.
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