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Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 5-9-19

Ban asphalt production

This is an important time for North Canaan to come together and protect our natural wealth. We have always been proudly pro-business, but when it comes to compromising our health, our environment and our future, we need to take a stand against the proposed asphalt plant.

In a Lakeville Journal article, Ben Metcalf said he takes seriously his responsibility to be a good neighbor. However, Mr. Metcalf’s actions speak otherwise.

Would a good neighbor tell all the neighbors in 2016 that he will only ever make Cold Patch, then just two years later apply for a Special Permit to build a four million dollar Warm Asphalt Plant? Would a good neighbor put an asphalt plant beside his neighbor’s house? Would a good neighbor sue our town (B. Metcalf vs. North Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission), in an attempt to force us to have an asphalt plant, while claiming he wants to invest in our town?

Would a good neighbor allow his lawyer to incorrectly state in the lawsuit that asphalt processing is permitted in any Industrial Zone in North Canaan? Would a good neighbor have his lawyer petition the court to keep his neighbors from attaining intervenor status, in an attempt to deny them fair access to the decision-making process?

Mr. Metcalf’s current business practices already affect our environment. If you haven’t picked up a handful of bagged cold patch that he manufactures in East Canaan, you should perhaps try it. After you spend 10 minutes scrubbing your hand with industrial soap to get the oil off, please ask yourself if you want this product manufactured on top of the aquifer that recharges your well water.

A group of concerned citizens has applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission to amend our zoning regulations to make asphalt production a Prohibited Use. At present (and contrary to the brief filed by Mr. Metcalf’s lawyer), asphalt production is NOT on North Canaan’s list of Accepted Uses.

Please mark your calendars for Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. On this date, the residents of North Canaan need to go to Town Hall and let the Planning and Zoning Commission know we want asphalt to be placed on the Prohibited Use list. This is a way to show our concerns for our environment, as well as a way to get North Canaan back on track, and not let asphalt derail us.

This is a way for our town to come together and show what good neighbors, truly good neighbors, are all about.

Dolores Perotti

East Canaan

 

Some history and gratitude on the strike

At Stop & Shop, we renew our contract through union negotiations every three years. We knew that in 2019 our contract would be up for renewal. When we are hired at Stop & Shop, we are compelled to surrender individual negotiation rights and join the union. Of course, dues are extracted from our paychecks after paying an initiation fee, or about three months after we are hired. Even if we leave our job, we can request a year’s hold, which would allow our return at the same wage as we had when we left, should we decide to return.

Stop & Shop was incorporated out of Boston in 1918 as a family grocery. The first Connecticut store was built in Hartford on Broad Street in 1941, with the help of several local investors, most of whom worked instore to build a more comprehensive management system. In the 1950s and 1960s, Stop & Shop took the lead as the premier grocery chain, leaving A&P in the dust. The competing Finast chain was acquired in the 1980s, and several smaller chains and independent stores were acquired since then.

 In the early 1990s, a Dutch company, Ahold, bought Stop & Shop and Giant. Hannaford Stores are their most recent acquisition. These stores have been left loosely independent, sometimes competing within the corporate structure. Almost all larger chains were unionized. In a system so complex, the union standardizes, directs and manages much of the labor force. In general, the corporate entity has not only enjoyed, but benefited from union involvement.

As individuals, we have been somewhat protected from many of the labor law loopholes and litigations. We’ve witnessed erratic schedules and countless examples of unfair labor practices of other companies in their struggle to compete. While Stop & Shop is not perfect, it has been a grocery leader in fair health benefits, pensions and cost of living wage increases.

We heard very little about these new negotiations when they began Jan. 22. Several attempts to settle and renew our contract were laid on the negotiation table, with Ahold backing away from negotiations, and stripping us back to some very basic benefits. After working without a contract for more than three weeks, we were called to unified action, to strike.

A strike is our last resort, it hurts us as individuals and it hurts the company that we have helped to build over the years, the company that has fed us and our families.

When we strike, we’re feeling abandoned, expendable. For this reason, I wish to extend my thanks, our thanks, to those many, many supportive members of our communities who buttressed us up when we were so down and helped us through our longest strike since our incorporation. 

Easter Sunday left us all singing “Alleluias” when we learned a new contract was awarded, one that we could live on and with. I know holiday shopping was difficult, with picket signs and long lines. So once again, thank you for all your support.

Barbara Muchelot, Member

Local 371, North Canaan

Goshen

 

Slow down on new Falls Village affordable housing 

This letter is a response to a Falls Village Planning and Zoning meeting on April 25, accurately reported in The Lakeville Journal on May 2, “Sparse Details on Apartment Plan.”

By way of context, our little section of Falls Village, Lime Rock Station, is a sweet riverside spot, around 20 dwellings on a 3/4 mile stretch tucked under the hills with the mighty Housatonic and historic railroad defining it. In 1993, Edward Hamilton, Bookseller, attempted to change the zoning to put his warehouse facilities in the old sand pit in our neighborhood. 

We formed an ad hoc neighborhood committee and were fortunate that the town decided against that. Instead, the land was donated and now we have five Habitat for Humanity families, in homes built by volunteers over the years. Welcome home-owning neighbors!

In 2013, unannounced, Falls Village changed the zoning on the sand pit to an Incentive Zone, earmarking it for state of Connecticut funds. Now, the Falls Village Housing Trust(FVHT), a private entity, wants to build a massive affordable housing rental complex that would quintuple our neighborhood population in that sandpit: 50 bedrooms in 28 units, a distant 2-plus miles from town. For the P+Z meeting of April 25, only one neighbor (adjoining) was invited. No one else was notified. Word got out the day before and a few of us showed up with questions.

We’re given to understand that the state housing programs are scaled for large cities, not small towns like Falls Village (second smallest in Connecticut). That should change.

There is an aspect to new housing called “walkability.” It is a known fact that people wholeheartedly prefer to live in town, in walking distance to schools, libraries, post offices and businesses, without the need and expense of driving everywhere, especially for families with children and the elderly. Being integrated into town life, not “marginalized” or “concentrated,” is a game-changer. Both Kent and Salisbury have successfully built affordable housing in town.

We ask that the FVHT pull up their horses, slow down and do this thing right. We all strongly agree with and understand the need for affordable housing. To do this successfully will take more work, but ultimately offer a far more user-friendly, viable and appropriately scaled outcome. We’d all be happy to help.

There are better sited land parcels to develop and properties in town that could be renovated, made affordable and environmentally sensitive. What is needed is not “one fell swoop” stuff, but rather a thoroughly considered plan, fully financed for the long term, and scaled to our small town, offering that desired “walkability” and “integrated” requisite.

Colter and Katy Rule

Bob Anderson

Jim and Louise March

Lillian Lovitt

Noelle Lamuniere

Lesley Janzen and 

Jeff Bauman

Falls Village

 

Thanks for the help with National Day of Prayer

We offer our heartfelt thanks to our remarkable community for gathering to celebrate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday evening. There was a special warmth and common purpose as we gathered to pray for our town and nation around this year’s theme of “Love One Another.” Representing a cross section of our community from our selectmen to a Vietnam War veteran, to a theater director, to an accountant, to the co-president of the Hotchkiss student body, to The Lakeville Journal publisher and editor in chief, to a landscape gardener, to a Greek Orthodox priest, to a sixth grader at Salisbury Central, everyone joined together with united hearts.  It was particularly moving to be led in the pledge of allegiance by Boy Scout Jassim Mohydan, with Michael Brown’s gifted exuberance guiding us in song. There was a true spirit of fellowship as we brought our petitions to God.

You all came out and made it happen. Thanks for making a difference in our little corner of the world.  

Newt and Barbara Schoenly

Salisbury