The Pearl Property has been a challenging issue for many years. The main conflict was the community didn›t want the Pearl to be used for a parking lot, even though it had been purchased by the town for that use. While previous ballot measures have precluded specific development proposals related to the Pearl, the entire property was, and still is, zoned Public Purpose, which includes parking, transit items and some miscellaneous other categories.
In 2010, a discussion took place which brought about a potential solution. That discussion centered around separating the wetlands and the paved portion, which had not been done previously. It would put in place zoning that cleared up the usage issues for these two distinct parcels. Roughly 87 percent of the Pearl would become open space and be incorporated into the Valley Floor conservation easement, which protects that portion forever. That parcel is a dynamic and important wetlands area. The paved portion (13 percent) would have newly defined public purpose zoning, which would include: medical, recreational, educational, parking and affordable housing. These public benefits are building blocks for the town›s future.
If 2D passes, the town council will make the final determination of what will occur on the paved parcel. The existing use is festival parking, which to most is not the highest and best use. It will not be a hotel or commercial development. It can only be what falls under the new zoning regulations.
If 2D does not pass, the town will continue to use the paved portion of the Pearl for parking and the wetlands portion will remain unprotected and carry the original public purpose zoning. It will remain unresolved.
It is our hope that finality of the Pearl question will come about this November 5. Hopefully, you agree and will join Ginny and me in voting yes on 2D.
– Stu Fraser