The recent Massaro Community Farm (MCF) “Plan to Enlarge Parking Lot” sounds benign. However, it portends major changes, and marks a turn from the original farm plan approved by the Board of Selectmen in 2008. Further, it parallels other “changes” overtaking our town, like the sea change to the Plan of Conservation and Development that opened the door to high density housing at the Woodbridge Country Club. Will the proposed changes promote our quality of life? Are they consistent with the responsible stewardship of our natural and financial resources?
Instead of improving an existing parking area, MCF’s parking plan takes a farm field that was improved with more than $35,000 for organic fruit and berry production, and converts it to structured parking. The features that make the sloping field ideal for an orchard make it unsuitable for parking. The price tag is astronomical, as will be the abuse to the landscape. This radical plan was approved by both TP&Z and the BOS. Stewardship?
The conversion of the Woodbridge Country Club to a high-density housing site is equally radical. Despite town officials’ professions to the contrary, landowners with similar town properties can demand the same zoning rights accorded to Toll Bros. Lawyers and deep-pocketed developers will have a field day. They’ve harmed neighborhoods and wreaked havoc across Connecticut, even suing for greater density. Is that the future we want? Stewardship?
A parking lot on prime farmland cheats our children of future promise. If the present farm manager and MCF and CSA boards are incapable of utilizing it as promised, then the field should be land banked for someone in the future who will. As for the golf course, the simple fix of selling it with a non-development easement is tried and true. It contributes property taxes, pays debt, and maintains the open space. That’s stewardship. Stewardship isn’t captive to narrow interests; it’s informed by wisdom that protects both the present quality of life and future promise.