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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

YMCA Land Use Hearing - The Conclusion

I’ve been writing a lot about Mr. Veazey’s request for a change in the land use designation of the YMCA camp on Watchaug Pond, to match the designation of two other pond-front camps in town, Camp Davis and the Boy Scout camp. When I started down this path I thought the arguments, pro and con, could be interesting. 

Unfortunately, as the discussion evolved I felt the opposition was running fast and loose with most of the facts they were touting and I viewed their leader, Joanne D’Alcomo, as an intensely colorful character but one who did not earn my respect.

You can see all the articles here.

Making such a land use designation change in the Comprehensive Plan requires three affirmative votes on the Town Council. Dan Slattery recused himself from the vote because he lives next to the YMCA property. That meant that three of the four remaining needed to vote in favor of the change. Marge Frank was clear early in this process that she viewed the Comprehensive Plan as not subject to change between the mandated review dates. The three remaining council members (Greg Avedisian, Lisa DiBello, and Tom Gentz) had all expressed some support for the proposal in previous sessions of the hearing.

In the third hearing session, on Monday night, we were fortunate that the Council only agreed to hear new speakers, or it could have gone on all night. Nonetheless, much of the hearing consisted of Ms. D’Alcomo attempting or demanding to speak. It was impossible to keep her quiet and she kept jumping up like a Jumping Jack. At one point she wanted to turn it into an email referendum, demanding to know the counts of emails received for and against the rezoning.

In the end, Council President Tom Gentz voted against the Comprehensive Plan change. Speaking from prepared remarks he encouraged all parties to negotiate a “win-win-win-win” solution. I believe his intent is admirable, if a little optimistic, and I hope the interested parties can come together with a sincere intent to find a compromise solution.

Lisa DiBello voted in favor of the Comprehensive Plan change despite, as she said, knowing that it would offend some friends and colleagues. Her comments in many ways echo and amplify the things I have written here.

I think both of their speeches communicate their points very well and encourage you to watch the video of their statements, using the links in the text above.

I wish all of the interested parties well in working out a compromise solution. I hope that Mr. Gentz' objective can be realized.

Author: Tom Ferrio