ROCHESTER - Tonight's planning board meeting vote could go a long way toward moving forward a City Council effort to rezone several parcels in the area of the former public works department on Old Dover Road.
Five city residents expressed dismay at a Jan. 17 public hearing that the City Council was looking to spot zone the land, which was zoned industrial during a three-year study of city zoning done about eight years ago, according to former city councilor and deputy mayor Ray Varney. He said he was also worried about future expansion of existing businesses located on some of the affected parcels.
No residents spoke in favor of the City Council's proposal.
Many who spoke said they were suspicious of the city's recent forays into rezoning land to allow for the construction of mammoth affordable housing units such as the 180-apartment complex proposed for the Gonic Brickyard last fall.
Rochester Economic Development Director Mike Scala, who is the point man pushing for the DPW rezoning, was recently appointed by Gov. Chris Sununu to the Board of Directors of New Hampshire Housing.
Tonight's meeting, which was postponed from last Monday due to an impending snowstorm, will likely see the panel vote on whether to recommend the zoning change, planning board member David Walker said today.
Walker noted that if there is a vote, and the board rejects the zoning change, the City Council would need a two-thirds vote majority to move the measure forward.
The parcels are all located in the city's Ward 2.
Efforts to reach Ward 2 City Councilor Amy Malone were unsuccessful, but fellow Ward 2 councilor Steven Beaudoin said he would be against the rezoning move. He also noted there was never a vote on the rezoning proposal.
However tonight's vote goes, it's likely City Council will revisit the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 7.