Conservation Easement Change Tabled by Pittsfield Trustees

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 01/11/2020 - 03:22

A proposed conservation easement change was tabled by Pittsfield trustees this week, setting aside plans for commercial space development along Michigan Avenue and State Road.

The decision to table the application was introduced by Supervisor Mandy Grewal during Wednesday’s meeting, following several questions raised regarding the potential environmental impact of the easement change.

“I don’t feel comfortable going one way or another without having more information in terms of what the long-term environmental costs are going to be,” Grewal said.

Grewal requested Benjamin Carlisle, the township’s planning consultant, to present a carbon emission evaluation for the proposed site to the board before the trustees voted on the application. The supervisor’s request to table the matter until then was met with unanimous approval. Trustee Linda Edwards-Brown was absent.

The proposed change involves developing a commercial space across three parcels of land, placed between a nearby Walmart and PNC bank. A conservation easement was established on one of the three parcels of land in 2003, originally designed to protect heritage trees in the area. The application submitted to the board included plans to remove six of the 14 trees in the area, four of which being heritage trees. The application also included plans to relocate the conservation easement and plant more trees in the area than were initially removed. The proposed plans were revised and approved by the township’s planning commission in November, receiving a 6-1 vote.

Public reaction to the proposed development was negative, as eight meeting attendees spoke out against the removal of the heritage trees. Resident Stephanie Atkinson said she was “dumbfounded” upon hearing the planning commission approval of the plans, saying she was emotional at the thought of the community losing some of its heritage trees.

“If you plant a sapling, it’s going to take decades before we’re going to get even close to half the canopy that we have now with any of our trees,” Atkinson said.

Resident Christina Lirones said the board should respect the existing conservation easement and protect the heritage trees.

“This is just heartbreaking – we saved these trees already, we shouldn’t have to be doing this again,” Lirones said.

 

Antonio Sanchez's picture
Antonio Sanchez
Antonio Sanchez is an experienced journalist who covered city and county government for the Rio Rancho Observer in New Mexico.