Springfield rezones a dozen properties
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | March 30,2013
SPRINGFIELD — About a dozen homes along Main Street and Precision Drive in North Springfield have been rezoned from industrial to residential/commercial.
The Select Board approved the proposed change, which would allow property owners to make changes to their properties that would have been forbidden under the old zoning designation, said Zoning Administrator Bill Kearns.
The new zoning change goes into effect in 21 days, unless the town receives a petition signed by 300 residents, he said Thursday.
Kearns said the industrial zoning problem surfaced last fall when a resident tried to subdivide his property into a home plus a rental unit after he failed to sell the property in one piece.
But under the industrial zoning district, the owner, Dan Gray, wasn’t allowed to do that since residences are not allowed in industrial districts.
“That was the first time I was aware they were zoned industrial,” Kearns said. “All those houses in the industrial zone are nonconforming so you can’t do anything with them.”
According to Kearns, the landowners couldn’t add a shed or build a porch or deck in the district. Under the new zoning, it would be allowed.
During a public hearing on the proposal, landowner Steve Kraft asked questions about the change, but no other landowners attended the hearing.
Kraft has the largest piece of land affected by the change, Kearns said. Under the change a 100-foot-wide strip of his parcel would be zoned residential-commercial, with the rest of his property still considered industrial land.
At an earlier public hearing about the change in front of the Springfield Planning Commission, some people questioned the timing of the zoning change. They asked if it was somehow tied in with the proposed biomass plant in the North Springfield Industrial Park, a short distance from the homes currently in the same industrial zoning district.
The timing raised suspicions, Kearns admitted.
But he said that wasn’t the case, and the change will actually give homeowners more flexibility and control over their property. Because the properties will be zoned residential/commercial, he said, people could put in a small business, such as a coffee shop, for instance.
During the Planning Commission hearing, some landowners said they didn’t realize their homes were in an industrial zone.
Springfield does not have a lot of industrial land, but Kearns said the homes were on small lots and wouldn’t be practical for industrial development.
Kearns said the properties have been zoned industrial since zoning was first adopted in Springfield; some homes on Fairbanks Road, which is on the western boundary of the industrial park, are still zoned industrial.
Changing the zoning for those homes would create “spot zoning,” he said.