MoreThanTheCurve.com received the below statement from Councilman Raj Gupta (Ward 1) this morning. In it he explains his reasoning for voting against the proposed Text Amendment which would have permitted the development of a Wawa at 11th and Fayette.
April 18, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
Last night I chose to vote against the text amendment, which impacts the RO District along Fayette Street in Conshohocken. I think it is important for the Community and those involved to understand why and what my thoughts are of future development within the Borough.
First, the vote last night was around approving changes to zoning, which impacts the entire RO District, not just the area where the E.F. Moore property encompasses. Doing the latter is illegal and is referred to as spot zoning.
Council did not vote in support or opposition of any specific business. My educational background is in Economics and Entrepreneurship, I 100% believe in a free economy and open competition.
I felt the literal text in the amendment jeopardized the Borough’s ability to facilitate responsible development across the RO District. A better approach would have been partnering with the Planning Commission, Council and the County to refresh the zoning regulations holistically. This would have allowed for all parties to come up with a thoughtful vision for the RO District, one that helps to encourage expansion of Commercial from the lower avenues up Fayette Street.
This is doable; in fact we are currently rewriting the zoning ordinances along the riverfront in the Special Purpose Districts to promote responsible development.
Council received a letter of promises from the Developers, but in reality without having limitations in the ordinance, it would be easy to appeal the Zoning Board at a later date. Those of us, who are familiar with the history of the development along the riverfront, know that a promise is non-binding once approval is granted.
The E.F. Moore site is private property and I do not believe Government should impede on the rights of its citizens. In other words, it is not up to Council to dictate what should or should not be built. We simply need to ensure zoning is appropriate and a clear framework exists for developers.
I will comment on one proposal for the site, since it has public implications. I do not support the development of a Borough Hall on that site. The Borough of Conshohocken has many real estate assets in its possession and I do not believe this proposal is the best use of tax payer dollars.
Moving forward, the community needs to heal and come back together. This particular issue spurred a lot of passion in the community, both good and bad. Conshohocken is a place where developers are clamoring to build in. We need to ensure that in the future we approach these issues with unbiased and honest information so that constituents of the Borough can make informed opinions.
Lastly, I hope those who were involved in the text amendment discussion don’t lose interest in the Borough. We have numerous volunteer positions available serving different Boards and Commissions. These groups influence the Borough in ways that have long lasting impacts.
Councilman, Ward 1