Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Letter to the ZBA

Our Concerns regarding a Boat Rental Business, mirror exactly our concerns related to the Rail Trail.

We are supporters of access to the Ben Smith Impoundment which cradles our home, for canoe and kayak use by local residents. We do not, however, want our neighborhood impacted by overuse of these limited resources.

Our neighborhood is on a dead end road, at the end of a dead end road, it is one of the quietest parts of town. The proposed business would rely on this fact to attract customers who want to get away and get out into nature. Unfortunately they create an Observer Effect, the act of observation changing the environment they intended to enjoy. Their enjoyment would alter the environment, residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

This proposal constitutes substantive changes to the character of the neighborhood. Traffic, Noise, Privacy, and Trespassing are all problems that would escalate with increased usage. We ask that as we allow greater access to the river and expanded recreational opportunities to our local community we do not turn our little piece of heaven into a "Recreation Destination" for people from around the state, country and the world. The problem is not the type of usage but the intensity of that usage that results in degradation. We are concerned that commercialization would lead to expansionist desires and ultimately the loss of that which we love. The more people the greater the impact. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

We do not believe the intent of the recreational use provision, was to allow for a “for profit”, commercial, business, use in a residential area. Recreational Use does not mean Commercial Use. The proposal asserts that "a kayak rental business on this section of the river would be an asset to the community". It is clear the petitioner is not very familiar with kayaking or this section of the river. Otherwise he would know that he already has an approved plan to service this section of the river from Crow Island. If the petitioner is trying to remedy his previous mistake in locating a business so far out in the woods as to make it impractical, there are better locations available than at our home. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

The petitioner wants to turn our residential neighborhood and adjacent open space into a business. If allowed we would be surrounded by the petitioner's customers. First in front of our house,  Second very close to the side of our house on our Narrow, Dirt, Private, Road, as they drive around. Third where they would Park their Cars and gather by the Portable Toilet Facility behind our house. Then finally they would take the boats, that they paid the petitioner to rent, and come back by the other side of our house, laughing, chatting and enjoying themselves, floating into our back yard. They would then float around to enjoy themselves on the pond in front of our house. The petitioner would be compensated for this inconvenience by the rental fees, the rest of the residents would not; even though the changes the petitioner proposes would affect the real value of our properties. Residents, plant and animal and human, would be impacted by greater usage of the area.

We have to question the wisdom in locating a business a mile though a quiet neighborhood in Stow, from 117, just to get to our Private, Narrow, Dead End, Road. A better solution appears obvious. the petitioner has requested to operate this same business at Ice House Landing. Vehicles would not have to travel through neighborhoods or along the rail trail, creating much less overall impact as well as more business than sending this additional traffic all the way through our neighborhood and those in Stow. There is already parking at Ice House Landing just off of 117, a Town of Maynard public area, next to the Maynard DPW which already has a strong police presence as it is an active town facility and refueling site. Stow and Maynard are already working together with plans for the rail trail. Why not include this boat rental and its required parking etc. with rail trail parking and access at Ice House Landing? We believe that the parking needs of the rail trail, the wildlife preserve and the petitioner's boat rental business must balance with the conundrum that bringing ever more people to the river and into the wildlife preserve is detrimental to preservation. Regardless we believe that parking for all of these endeavors could be located at Ice House Landing in Maynard and we request that the elected and appointed officials of Maynard and Stow work to make this so. Not doing so would adversely impact residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood.

The petitioner has backed away from his claims to the Stow Planning Board that he was not pursuing this business at Icehouse Landing. He now claims he is approved to use Icehouse Landing, but if this too changes, we propose that the petitioner choose a site for his business that is appropriate for this type of activity. Mill Pond Square would be a much better business location, for both the petitioner and the Town of Maynard. Located at the intersection of Rt 62 and Rt 117, it is zoned for business and would also service this section of the river all the way past Crow Island. It looks like they have space. http://www.millpondsquare.com/ If the Town feels we really need another Boat Rental this close to the one the petitioner is planning on running at Crow Island and the added cost of rental space at Mill Pond Square disrupts the petitioner's carefully calculated revenue models, perhaps the town could subsidize his rental cost in order to provide this service to the community. While this would still impact residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood, the disruption would be reduced as these visitors would be passing by and not lingering around our homes.

We must make sure that any increased usage is controlled so as not to ruin what we all love about this area: its unique tranquility and rural character, something we have lost so much of elsewhere in our community. We request that the Zoning Board not approve this Permit Application but instead work with the Selectmen and other necessary agencies in Maynard and Stow to facilitate the petitioner's ability to operate a single rental operation with the least impact to the community and our environment as possible. Since the petitioner is already planning to operate this business from Crow Island we can not understand the need to have an additional location so close, and so close to our home. In addition we feel that the Town of Maynard should prohibit use of Rental Boats on the Ben Smith Impoundment downstream of the White Pond Road Bridge. This would reduce the impact to residents, plant and animal and human, in our neighborhood, without impacting the experience of the petitioner's customers.

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