LEICESTER, Mass. — A request to rezone Pleasant Street properties to be included in the business district gained the support Monday night of the Leicester Board of Selectmen. It voted 4-1 to support the plan, even though it was unanimously voted down last month by the Planning Board.
At the last public hearing, the request resulted in a backlash from residents, mostly stemming from concerns over traffic as well as aesthetic worries.
The poor reception seemed to spell doom for the plan. But Monday's vote, with only Sandra Wilson in opposition, may have renewed the proposal.
"From the economic development point of view, if we can't get a light retail place in this town, what the heck are we telling the rest of the businesses? And you know what, I'm not sure why we even have an Economic Development Committee," said Selectman Douglas Belanger, who also serves as a member of the Economic Development Committee.
Selectman Tom Buckley said, "We need to move forward, and we need a facelift in the center of town and this is a good opportunity."
"Some people don't realize that even if a company goes forward with developing those properties, they still have to comply with the rules that we have," he said. "There are all kinds of checks and balances throughout the entire building process to make buildings look a certain way."
But Wilson opposed the change.
"The whole purpose of the central business was, yes, to promote business, but also to promote mixed use and to preserve the character and the historic buildings in the center of the town — and the one location being discussed would totally destroy that here," said Wilson.
"The purpose of central business was to preserve a small town historic picture of Main Street, and I am just against approving this when the sole purpose is to tear down a house built in the 1700s. I'm not against them coming, I am just against that specific location."