ROCHESTER - A move to rezone several parcels near and adjacent to the city's former DPW headquarters moved forward on Monday with near-unanimous support from the planning board.
The lone vote against the rezoning came from planning board chair Mark Collopy, who said prior to voting he wasn't against housing, but didn't like this project.
"We need more housing, we can agree on that," Collopy said. "But I am not in support of this."
Resident Susan Rice called out the systemic "spot zoning" currently being practiced by the city and chastised the planning board and the city for not doing its job in developing a zoning master plan.
"You're own work is incomplete, you've canceled a third of your planning board meetings in the past year," complained Rice, who also called for more transparency.
Resident Tom Kacynski also spoke out against the rezoning move, adding that the city spent three years updating the zoning maps during a study a decade ago, and the hard work done back then should be honored.
Speaking out at public comment in support of the rezoning from Industrial to R-2, which allows for apartment complexes, was Jaeger USA, Inc. CEO Wink Faulkner, who said he needs more employees to staff his Pickering Road factory.
"I can't grow when I can't get people," said Faulkner. "If the city is to prosper we have to build affordable housing."
Faulkner said his company has gone to extraordinary lengths to retain good employees, including giving one worker a loan to buy a condo after they complained they couldn't find an affordable place to live locally.
Rochester Mayor Paul Callaghan also made an appearance in favor of the rezoning, which many detractors of the move say is another obvious attempt by the city to strike a deal with a nonprofit to build taxpayer funded affordable housing.
City Councilor Steven Beaudoin has already voiced his opposition to the rezoning, saying that city and state government should not be in the business of building low-income apartment complexes.
"If there's a demand, let the private sector take care of that," Beaudoin said in advance of Monday night's planning board meeting.
The City Council will likely approve the rezoning at next Tuesday's meeting.