Opinion: Lakeville Hospital issue affects quality of life

Oct 2, 2022

To the editor:

The Sept. 29 Select Board meeting had an extensive agenda. Among other matters, longtime zoning and development problems for Lakeville residents were visited again. Possible scrapping of the Development Opportunities District (DOD) and a potential change in the use of industrial versus mixed use zoning application was discussed.

John Jenkins questioned this, and his exchange with Select Board Chair Richard LaCamera was heated.  

While it was stated that this would be raised at Fall Town Meeting, Mr. Jenkins offered that this was the first he had heard of it. Planning Board Chair Mark Knox stated that this had been discussed with town counsel and was voted on at last Thursday’s Planning board meeting. Mr. LaCamera stated that there would be a hearing on the matter on Oct. 27 and there would be a public informational meeting on the potential zoning change forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Select Board meeting agenda would again raise the subject.

Resident Dick Scott asked why industrial zoning was not being applied to Lakeville Hospital property rather than mixed use. Mr. LaCamera stated that mixed use would require a 2/3 vote, as does an industrial zoning change. Mr. Scott asked if developer Rhino had been involved in writing this article and after being pressed, Mr. Knox conceded that it had input from the developer. Mr. Scott expressed that the reason he sued both Rhino and the town is that he does not have assurance that the town will protect his rights as an abutter. 

The Lakeville Country Club property was also revisited by Mr. Scott as a site that developers had been looking at for potential warehouse construction, although that had been entangled in the DOD overlay. Apparently Mr. Scott has been approached by Rhino in advance of a public hearing, and expressed that he did not trust that the town will protect the abutters of the hospital property. He further stated that he believed the zoning change article is fraudulent. He restated that he has been approached by the developer and in his estimation it is a move to work around the current zoning to allow construction of a big box warehouse under mixed use classification rather than industrial zoning.

Resident Brynna Donahue asked what the consequences would be if residents continued to block industrial development of the hospital property, and if the town could be sued in that event. Chairman LaCamera responded no.  

There is an upcoming Planning Board meeting on Oct. 13 to discuss this and other zoning issues. On Oct. 27 there will be a public informational meeting on these potential zoning changes. It was clear at this meeting that residents will be engaged in the upcoming decisions about balancing the development of Lakeville’s rural community with quality of life for its residents and more specifically abutters of these properties going forward. 

Noelle Rilleau