Middlefield's Planning and Zoning Commission has once again extended a public hearing on the town's request to divide the Powder Ridge property.
Commission members agreed Wednesday night to continue the hearing on June 13 after hearing from Middlefield resident Paul Pizzo, who questioned whether the commission would be in violation of its own regulations by approving the town's application to create an interior lot in order to split off nearly 20 acres of the property.
Pizzo said town regulations allow for only one interior lot and, in his opinion, the John J. Nerden camp already existed as such.
"What is being proposed, right now by the town, is to create a second interior lot," said Pizzo during a brief presentation in front of several maps of the property. "If we, as a town, can't uphold our own regulations what kind of precedent are we setting for the next developer."
Last month, the PZC held which would separate the 246 acre ski area into two parcels of land.
Under the terms of a sales agreement with Sean Hayes of Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park, the larger piece — about 226 acres — would be sold to Hayes for $700,000 while the smaller parcel would be kept by the town for future consideration.
Watch Patch's video of PZC chairman Robert Johnson reading a letter from former selectman Mary Johnson.
"The town's application does not seek approval for a particular use of Powder Ridge property," said selectman Edward Bailey, who appeared before the commission to represent the town. "The only question for the commission on this application is whether the proposed, in pink, interior lot complies with the requirements of section 9.5.1."
In an attempt to address Pizzo's claim that the Nerden Camp is considered an interior lot, PZC member Kevin Boyle turned to the commission's legal counsel.
"Hypothetically, in your opinion, by voting in favor of this interior lot, would we be voting... doing something against the regulations that currently exist," Boyle asked attorney Brendan Schain.
"That question can only be answered by the commission," Schain responded before adding, "My opinion is that the Nerden Camp is not an interior lot."
While PZC chairman Robert Johnson said concerns raised at the May 23 public hearing had been addressed, Johnson and Boyle conceeded that Pizzo's concern needed further consideration by the commission's legal counsel and town planner Geoff Colegrove, who did not attend the hearing.
But some members of the audience questioned whether, in raising the issue, Pizzo had ulterior motives.
"I encourage the board to make a decision on this tonight and not delay it anymore. I think it's clear that people here and on the board have ulterior motives," said Cindy Nick.
"I don't know what an ulterior motive is," said Marianne Corona, "because I don't have one other than an 11-year-old granddaughter who wants to ski at Powder Ridge."
"This is not political," said resident Jim Brown.
Prior to the public comment period of the hearing and again after it, PZC member James Malcolm raised his own concerns about the request, specifically the town's motive for wanting to divide the property.
"I'm light years away from making a decision. I don't know if this is legal," he said.
Johnson used the opportunity to remind Malcolm that he had the right to "vote in favor, opposed or abstain."
"I would be forced to abstain," Malcolm said.
The commission will meet again on Wednesday, June 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Middlefield Community Center. The public hearing will continue at 7 p.m.