The City Council was unanimous in its denial of the so-called Boyea zoning change request, but couldn't be more divided on the way it was handled.
Commissioner of Accounts John Franck argued that Mayor Valerie Keehn had subjugated longstanding city processes in order to go on the record with a decision before a Republican-controlled City Council takes over Jan. 1.
City resident Chris Boyea and four other homeowners asked that the city rezone 9 acres of land on Route 50 near the Milton town line from rural-residential 1 to highway-business, citing financial hardship as one of the reasons for the change. According to the city accounts office, Boyea's property has been on the market for a few years.
The property owners' application was referred to the city and county planning boards in August, where it received an unfavorable opinion from the city planning board and a favorable one from the county. The application came back to the City Council in November, when Commissioner of Accounts John Franck was to schedule a public hearing on the proposal. Franck decided not to schedule the hearing however, citing the city's longstanding practice of giving his department and the applicants at least 30 days notice to iron out details that may hinder the process.
Keehn, noting that the 30-day rule is not a legal stipulation, moved at the Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting of the City Council to schedule a public hearing before she leaves office.
Franck had asked that the public hearing on the zoning change take place after the holidays so that all five families could attend.
Several residents spoke out against the zoning change during the public hearing.
Charlie Morrison encouraged the mayor to keep the city's gateways green and free of development.
Our gateways create an immediate impression of what to expect from the rest of the city, he said. "They have aesthetic and economic impacts on the rest of the city."