Debate Over Connet Woods Kiosk

A small but vocal group of homeowners in the Connet Woods subdivision protested the planned location of a mail kiosk at Tuesday’s Rochester Planning Board meeting, expressing frustration with the developer’s perceived lack of transparency and dissatisfaction with the Board’s proposed placement of the structure.

An at times heated discussion on the item dominated the evening’s proceedings, lasting upward of 90 minutes. Traffic congestion, safety, aesthetics, zoning requirements, the wishes of the postmaster, and other considerations had member Susan Teal “trying to build a matrix in my poor head.” She was not alone, as members pored over documents and photographs while keeping up with public comment.

Since the postal service will not deliver to individual mailboxes in the subdivision, its residents must use a kiosk, currently drawn up for Lot 107 on Box Turtle Drive. Abutters voiced concerns about noise pollution, privacy, accident risk, and interrupted sight lines if the common box were to be moved there.

“I wouldn’t have purchased the property had I known about this,” said one resident. “We chose this area specifically for the features of the neighborhood. These designs and the footprint have to be reconsidered.” Another described herself as “furious” at not having been notified by Edgewood Development Company, adding that “there has been a lot of wasted time. Here we are, and nobody’s happy, and it’s not fair.”

While the kiosk would currently have to accommodate only 20 residents, the proposed design anticipates future phases, and could ultimately handle mail for 52 Connet Woods lots. It would measure approximately 8 feet high, according to Tim Higgins of Edgewood. A subsequent companion kiosk in a different spot would add capacity for the remaining 65 lots in the development, which is located off of Ryder Road.

According to Chair Arnold Johnson, the post office “prefers” that there be two structures, and that they be located near the ingress points in the community.

“Their biggest issues are safety and access,” Johnson said, repeatedly rejecting suggested alternatives from residents as unsafe or impractical. “It’s a dilemma.”

One idea that did gain traction late in the meeting was from resident Justin Gear, who said that a pull-up lane could be built at the front of the subdivision – and adjacent to his property – necessitating the clearing of “only a few trees” and not endangering pedestrians. The Board’s response was positive, and Johnson encouraged the residents and the developer to reconvene and come up with a solution.

“We’ve heard a lot of great testimony tonight, and I hope you don’t think we’ve taken your concerns lightly,” he said. “You guys need to get together and come back to us. I’m putting it back in your lap. Stake out the options, and we’ll come out and take a look. I think we’re heading in the right direction here.”

The Board will revisit the item at its next meeting on April 9.

Meanwhile, the Board postponed discussion on Shawmut Associates’ recycling facility, and undertook informal talks about whether to present their zoning articles to Rochester voters at the annual Town Meeting on May 20 or at a special Town Meeting in the fall, when their issues might be less likely overshadowed by budgetary matters, and quorum requirements would be lower. The consensus was to wait until the fall.

By Shawn Badgley

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