Voters to decide rezoning request at Hatfield Town Meeting

  • Hatfield Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 4:06:03 PM

HATFIELD — A North Hatfield Road site could be rezoned to allow development of a medical or business office, a convenience store or a marijuana dispensary.

When annual Town Meeting convenes May 11, voters will make the decision on whether to change the zoning on the 9.4-acre parcel at 137 North Hatfield Road from rural residential to light industrial.

The rezoning request, which comes from Gregory Omasta of 123 North Hatfield Road, would need a two-thirds majority to pass.

The Planning Board in mid-April voted 3-2 to put the rezoning on the warrant with a neutral recommendation, with both Chairwoman Stephanie Slysz and Vice Chairman Robert Wagner voting against bringing the topic to Town Meeting.

“I’m not in favor of spot zoning, which is exactly what this is,” Slysz said.

Board members Paul Dostal, Jimmy Tarr and Michael Paszek, though, indicated in their public comments that they would give courtesy to the rezoning request and let voters decide.

While about 65 acres of land on the west side of the road is already zoned light industrial, the road frontage and 200 feet back has remained rural residential, though in 2012 the Planning Board issued a permit to Omasta so he could move Omasta Landscaping from Hadley to Hatfield. That move never happened.

Slysz said the original rezoning, which passed in 2003, left a strip of residential properties as a compromise to homeowners and a buffer from future light industrial activity.

In 2009, the Hatfield Redevelopment Authority used a $50,000 grant from the state's Department of Housing and Community Development to explore the possibility of developing around 60 acres on North Hatfield Road into a business park. That fell through and the light industrial parcels have remained undeveloped, in part due to limited access from the road.

Omasta, though, has been using the residential site for some commercial activity, according to planners. His son, Chris Omasta, operates Yellow Ribbon Trucking in Hadley and has stored some of the vehicles in Hatfield.

Planners acknowledge that the zoning change could alter the neighborhood in the long term, even though it already sees some truck traffic to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and for C&S Wholesalers. C&S deliveries are supposed to be made via Routes 5 & 10, but the occasional truck misses that entrance.

Kim Baker, who lives on North Hatfield Road, said the residential street’s truck traffic is already a concern. “It’s very noisy and not like what it was when I moved here 12 years ago,” Baker said.

Baker also said that potential light industrial development on the street could mar the mostly agricultural landscape.

The current owners of 137 North Hatfield Road, James and Lorrie Motyka, support the rezoning.

Lorrie Motyka said the problem with trucks could be addressed through more enforcement and better signs. Only one small sign near the Hatfield Pub informs truck drivers that there is no access to C&S from North Hatfield Road.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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