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Beware developers bearing gifts

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By Friday, Jan 5, 2018 Letters 7

To the editor:

Thank you to Carole Owens for her timely and insightful “Bamboozled Berkshires” article. Her statement that “the promises to the Berkshires are always the same” really hits home. We do need to learn from history or else we’re doomed to repeat it.

Along with many in Stockbridge, I was bamboozled by what happened with Elm Court. I was present for many of the meetings and was emotionally motivated to help this longtime Stockbridge family save their property. Let’s learn from the history of the bylaw changes that were made to accommodate their needs. And how many times has the property been flipped since then? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Our attention has now turned to out-of-town developers who claim to know what is best for Stockbridge. They complain because town residents check the schedules and agendas for public meetings and then show up and ask questions. It’s not collusion. We are an informed electorate and this is the way our town government works. We believe in freedom of speech and transparency in government.

It’s not just a few abutters who question Mr. Sheehan’s tactics. It’s also proponents for Stockbridge who want to preserve the quality of life that motivates us to live here. The proposed bylaw changes would impact all Stockbridge residents, full- and part-time, as well as other properties throughout town.

Residents of Stockbridge need to defend Stockbridge’s zoning bylaws, the purpose of which includes “to minimize the adverse effects of development on the town’s unique environmental and historic features and for the protection and enhancement of the town’s existing small-town character, open spaces, low density of population and, in the interests of the town’s orderly growth at deliberate pace.”

Anita Schwerner


7 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Richard Allen says:

    Regarding Anita Schwerner’s letter complaining about “developers”: If a property owner is allowed to stop or limit what another property owner can do with his/her property, shouldn’t the complaining property owner have to pay something for that right? If not, doesn’t that amount to theft?

    1. AJ says:

      I’ve always believed that we live in a COOPERATIVE society, one that exists for the COMMON good. Unfortunately the economic system in which we live has repeatedly been co-opted by and for those with greed as their motivating force.

    2. Charles Kenny says:

      Mr. Allen makes a good point, often lost in the misrepresentations of slick PR campaigns. For example, Mr. Patrick Sheehan, who is not from Stockbridge, bought a residential property called the DeSisto estate in a residential neighborhood in Stockbridge. None of the neighbors, who have raised our families there and expected to live out our lives in peace and quiet, would have objected if Mr. Sheehan proposed a development that conformed with the existing bylaws, or even modified them in a reasonable way. That is not what he is trying to do though. What Mr. Sheehan is trying to do with his massive commercial development is completely ruin our long-established neighborhood, along with the wildlife habitat and forest behind it. In order to do this, Mr. Sheehan is trying to get rid of all the zoning protections our community has had in place for years to preserve the beauty of our community. If anyone should be paid, it is the neighbors, since we bought our lands many years ago with the town’s promise that no development would be permitted that would substantially change the character of our neighborhood. Cooperation is worthwhile. Exploitation is not.

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    The proposed bylaw change will, if approved, affect two properties. One is the former DeSisto School and the other is the Marian Fathers property. In actuality, though, it will only affect DeSisto, because being a religious order, the Marian Fathers would be exempt under the Dover Amendment. The new amendment will not affect any other property.

    If the town approves the by-law, it will not forever change the way our town governance works. The developer will still have to get the appropriate approvals for everything connected with a development in our town – planning board, Conservation Commission, traffic studies, etc.

    The ONLY reason this bylaw proposal has been made is that the “first chain” in the approval process in our town – the Selectmen refused to even meet with the development team. And, in so doing, one member admitted to meeting with abutters and walking their property, while still refusing to meet with the owner’s team. And, one Selectmen in an earlier meeting very clearly stated that he was “against this project.” Having telegraphed their ultimate refusal, AND refusing to meet, they gave the owner no other choice, but to exercise his constitutional rights and apply for a change to the bylaw.

    While abutters and their group of NIMBYS and BANANAS continue to distort the facts, this bylaw situation was caused by the “first chain in the process.” It was that chain who is responsible.

    What to me, and many other people I have spoken with clearly understand, is that what is going on in the effort to defeat this project, is that, having built nice large, expensive homes in other DEVELOPEMENTS in our town, they now want to slam the door on a project that will provide our town with a very nice high end boutique hotel, with dining and other amenities, including Condotels that will be clustered together – as is now being done in many places to preserve open space, and ultimately some private homes in the rear of the property.

    Most of the abutters are wealthy people who have shown that they do not care about bringing jobs and income from a business establishment to “their” town, because “they’ve made theirs and to hell with the rest of you.” Oh, they couch their opposition and “suck in others” with comments about “saving our poor town,” etc. But, it really is they who are the BAMBOOZLERS.

    This attitude was clearly shown in a letter earlier wherein an abutting writer replied to the use of the term that applies to many of the abutters – NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) – or another one – BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) by saying that he believed in APPLE (Above Profit Pick Lovely Environment). However, what that writer didn’t reveal after stating in his letter that he “enjoyed walking the DeSisto property whenever he wanted,” is that he has his own 80 acre property very clearly marked with NO TRESPASSING signs. And during your next “Sunday drive” around town, try driving on Meadow Road. You will most likely be stopped and told “this is a private road and you’re not allowed here.” Hypocrisy? You decide.

    At the annual town meeting the voters will decide who the real BAMBOOZLERS are. I trust they will make the right decision.

  3. William says:

    What the heck is a BANANA??

    1. Ritch says:

      I believe it was Freud who said “sometimes, a BANANA is just a BANANA”.

    2. Jim Balfanz says:

      Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone…

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