WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- A $12-million, 95-room chain hotel proposal is being proposed on land that was, until three years ago, zoned for residential use only -- and voters may have intended that it be used for office space.
Town records show that, until the 2013 Town Meeting, the land on which the former Grand Union supermarket sits -- behind Cumberland Farms on State Road (Route 2), was too far from the road to be included in the commercial-zoned district. But in 2013, the town's voters agreed to amend zoning to change the parcel's zoning to "business" from "general residence."
The approved article was accompanied in the Town Warrant by the following explanation: "This bylaw amendment will rezone one parcel and a small portion of another parcel that are currently zoned as residential space but used as a business space. Occupying these parcels are the former Grand Union Building and the Chopsticks Restaurant. This zoning reclassification will greatly enhance economic opportunity by allow additional office uses at the Grand Union Building."
However, now a hotel is proposed for that land, not "additional office uses." Would that frustrate the intent of the town's voters? It will be up to the Zoning Board of Appeals to decide at its Jan. 19 meeting.
When Town Meeting voted the zoning change at a May 21, 2013, the change was introduced by Anne McCallum, who was at that time a member of the Planning Board. She is now the architect for the proposed hotel developer. A viewing of the WilliNet archive video (go to 1:15:00 in the video) of the meeting shows that McCallum stated:
"What this article is doing is also reflecting what is sort of defacto situation right now which is where Chopsticks is and the old Grand Union, which was Litchfield, I think you all know it behind Cumberland Farms. Those two lots are currently zoned General Residence. But they are abutting the Limited Business District and they are now acting as businesses, and it would be much easier for those businesses if they were zoned as planned business. So we would like to, and the planning board feels that this is appropriate. So we hope you will vote in favor of changing those two lots to Planned Business."
There was no discussion and the item passed on a two-thirds voice vote.