Steen’s 40R Development Finally Approved

            After a lengthy review process that began over a year ago, the Cranberry Highway 40R Development received unanimous approval from the Rochester Planning Board in their meeting held on January 26.

            The project’s applicant, Ken Steen, explained that the language in the most recent decision is agreeable to both the development’s needs and the Planning Board’s conditions. Chairman Arnold Johnson agreed that the draft decision’s most recent iteration has satisfied the town’s requirements and thanked Steen for his cooperation in the lengthy review process.

            Ultimately, the project, which has faced significant roadblocks in terms of design and abutters, now has the authority to move forward.

            The Rochester Planning Board moved on to a review of their proposed budget for the upcoming year. The discussion centered primarily around minor alterations to administrative costs and procedures.

            Johnson explained that the budget seemed to be consistent with previous years. That said, he recommended an increase in the amount of funds allocated to Registry of Deeds recording fees, as he anticipated that numerous changes to Planning Board regulations would need to be recorded with the registry.

            Town Planner Steve Starrett also joined the meeting to inform board members of the increasing storage problems the town faces concerning their requirement to store public documents. Starrett explained that the growing number and size of plan sets needing storage has resulted in a decrease in file space and a mounting difficulty in terms of retrieving older documents once stored.

            Working to find a solution to the problem, Starrett advocated for both scanning the documents and using a storage company to store documents off-site. This would allow only more recent documents to occupy the town’s file cabinets, while more dated records could be store in a different location.

            The problems relating to storage extend outside of just Planning Board documents, but Starrett hoped that if the Rochester Planning Board would adopt the use of scanning and off-site storage, then other town bodies would follow their lead. Johnson acknowledged the growing problem, but he expressed concerns that storing the documents at another location could lead to delays in retrieval and conflict with town regulations relating to document storage. The Planning Board agreed to conduct more research into the subject and review potential solutions in their next meeting.

            Johnson ended board business by recommending a site visit to the Cushman Road Solar Project. According to Starrett, Eric Las, the engineer leading the development of the area, has staked the site in question to allow board members a clearer understanding of areas that will be impacted.

            Johnson explained that a greater understanding of the site is vital, especially the contentious access road proposed by the applicant, as numerous abutters have already voiced concerns about the development. The Rochester Planning Board will visit the site on February 6, leading into their next meeting to be held on Tuesday, February 9, at 7:00 pm, when the public hearing on the solar site will continue.

Rochester Planning Board

By Matthew Donato

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