2018-04-12 / Editorial

Be aware of contract zones

To the editor:

I am a resident of Simpson Road in Saco and an abutter to the property that may well become the new home of The Ecology School. Since no one can do NIMBY better than an abutter, I will try to live up to my reputation.

There are two main issues here that I would like to address. First is the recent over-enthusiasm in Saco for using contract zone agreements to accommodate so-called economic development that made it so easy for this large institution to gain initial approval in a conservation zone. As an added slap in the face to taxpaying rural residents, a contract zone can be modified at will in the future by the council at the request of the applicant. In the case of The Ecology School, there is no guarantee that this facility would not operate 365 days a year and still ask for more daily participants. In fact, this exact scenario has been presented as the desired future of the school in its publications.

The second issue is the lack of foresight shown by most councilors for future burdens on the city, as this project will increase traffic to an unsafe level by placing a large facility, with daily school buses, delivery trucks, employees and other program participants, on the outer edge of Saco. There will inevitably be complaints, near misses and accidents, and eventually scarce road maintenance funds will have to be expended on Simpson Road’s many blind curves and hilltops. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll remember this sequence of events happened on Ferry Road at great expense to the city, necessitated by incremental development. This expense would fall on the taxpayer.

This could be your nightmare, as contract zones are awarded within your neighborhood. Maybe you think your in-town residential neighborhood is not zoned for Dollar General? Well, think again. The gift of contract zoning keeps on giving. Saco is on an unprecedented and unconsidered growth track that is trading small-city quality of life for unproven economic and status gains.

Susan Littlefield Saco

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