Tuesday, May 21, 2013
WATERVILLE — City councilors voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve rezoning two lots on Kennedy Memorial Drive and Carver Street to allow certain businesses to open there.
The decision came after a long discussion between the lot owner's daughter, neighbors and councilors about what types of business would be allowed on the lots and whether egress and entry to certain streets would be allowed.
Celeste Bard said her parents, Leland and Fernande Bard, have tried for years but have been unable to sell 167 Carver Street and 121 Kennedy Memorial Drive which are partly in a residential neighborhood but also are off Kennedy, a busy four-lane road.
So, the family wants to sell the lots, which they bought as an investment some 30 years ago.
The Planning Board reviewed the Bards' request for rezoning and recommended the council vote to do so but allow only financial institutions and professional offices there.
Celeste Bard said she wanted to strike a balance so the businesses are acceptable to neighbors and benefit the community.
Joyce Nasr of Merryfield Avenue read aloud a letter signed by about 35 residents saying they do not want egress on Carver Street or Merryfield Avenue as part of any rezoning because the increased traffic would be detrimental to their way of life and be unsafe for pedestrians.
They said they would support allowing financial institutions and professional offices, as well as book, furniture, shoe, clothing and health-food stores, senior citizen apartments and other retail businesses.
Celeste Bard asked if restaurants such as Panera, apartments, condominiums or multifamily developments would be acceptable.
Mayor Karen Heck suggested amending the rezoning request to include the list of businesses the Bards and neighbors agreed upon, rather than just allow financial institutions and professional offices, as recommended by planners.
"We'd be pleased and grateful to see something move forward, so I think we'll defer to the council's recommendation," Celeste Bard said.
With a compromise reached between neighbors and the Bards, councilors voted unanimously to approve the rezoning, with an amended list of allowed businesses. That list included restaurants that would close at 8 p.m., as recommended by neighbors.
The Planning Board has authority to make recommendations to the council on zoning issues, but only the council has the power to change zoning.
City Engineer Greg Brown and others noted that whatever businesses open on the lots would have to get Planning Board approval.
Amy Calder — 861-9247