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Angst Swells over Zoning Changes

Hundreds of community residents packed into the Ahern Middle School Thursday night for a planning zoning hearing.

Residents made it clear where they stood on the casino venture of Patriots owner Bob Kraft and Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn: Thanks, but no thanks.

More than 500 residents packed the auditorium at Ahern Middle School Thursday night for a planning zoning hearing discussing the proposed verbiage change in the Economic Development Area Overlay District. The change would allow for construction of a commuter rail station, 300-foot buildings, hotels, indoor-outdoor conference facilities, a resort-style facility, among others. 

This is the third hearing on the proposed changes; the first, however, since Kraft and Wynn made public their desire to build a casino across from Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

"I don't want anyone to think that all along they've known, we've known, that this is all about a casino. Because that's just not true," said Kevin Wienfeld, chairman of the planning and zoning board.  "Then again, that doesn't mean that it denies them the opportunity should these changes go through."

The proposed changes came about over a year ago, said board member Bill Grieder, before the gaming bill was ever passed in the state legislature.

"But if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then I believe it's a duck," Walpole Town Administrator Michael Boynton told the board. "When you combine all the proposed changes…that's a massive, massive change of use that doesn't exist today. The Town of Walpole asks you to consider the human lives…and cast your vote no."

Members of Walpole's and Norfolk's planning and zoning boards were also present, voicing their opposition against the changes.  "Any buffering you can do (between the zones, town lines) would be appreciated," said Andrea Langhauser, Norfolk planning board member. "I would encourage you to get a traffic study report, and a state environmental impact report."

Though the majority of those present were against the changes, there were a few residents who took to the microphone to express their support. "Taxes are being continually raised, there are cuts in services with no revenue in sight except (a casino) to take care of it," said Daniel Flynn of Foxboro.  Flynn, a New England Regional Carpenters Union delegate, said that for the right reasons, a casino would be great for the area. "You've got a lot of folks worrying about paying their mortgage, jobs, and a casino would bring about 10-to-12,000 jobs to those who are hurting so bad," he said.

In 2004, as well as this past September, both the planning board and the board of selectmen were presented with the option to allow for a casino to be built along Route 1, even though the gaming bill had not yet passed. Each time, Grieder said, the boards' response was a unanimous "no." "Even if this were to change, as I understand the gaming bill, it would be a good five years before a spade ever hit the earth," said Wienfeld. 

First, the selectmen have to approve a casino proposal brought to the board by a developer, Jim DeVellis, Foxborough Selectman, told planning and zoning members. Once it's approved, the developer would have to apply for a license through the state gaming commission. From there, he said, the developer has to make presentations to neighboring towns, a vote to change the zoning, all followed by a town vote to officially approve the casino.

"It's a long, five-step process," DeVellis said. "And the (Foxborough) Board of Selectmen have not been presented with a casino proposal, the first step."

Other concerns voiced by residents included the potential increase in criminal activity, traffic, population growth and an overall change to the "small-town feel," of Foxborough.

"Foxborough is an idealic little town," said Jennifer Keen, who was raised in Foxborough and moved to Plainville a few years ago. "It's a great town to raise your kids in. Low crime, and nothing really bad about it."

The planning board rejected two measures Thursday that would have allowed new uses including multi-family housing, a convention center, buildings up to 300 feet, a commuter rail station, and bus station. 

Charlie December 15, 2011 at 02:07 PM
As long as dramatic infrastructure improvements r made I vote yes on casino although I do want to see the proposal, have a great day
Charlie December 15, 2011 at 02:52 PM
I will not read anyone's facts as some r exaggerated and wrong, some r right, I will see the proposal and see the stats of everything, we're not a stupid family and can read between the lines, but I would like to see the proposal for the casino and resort, everyone have a great day
Amy Ashford December 19, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Please understand who you are responding to. It is quite clear that "Jacob" is probably a plant who is on various internet article and comment sections, including Facebooks "No-Fox Vegas". He also formed the "Jobs For Foxboro" on Facebook. He/she is most likely hired by Wynn. Therefore, is is safe to assume that there are more plants. It has been confirmed that Wynn hired Sage Systems, a Boston based political consulting firm and I am sure he has hired more firms to help with his campaign to get his casino approved. In addition to this, Wynn is sending letters to Foxboro residents, airing commerical and news ads, as well as paying young people low wages to go door to door in Foxboro to sway public opinion.
Jacob December 19, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Amy, I am not a plant. I am a believer that this resort will benefit our community and I am willing to help Wynn drive their message on these boards. Look forward to continuing the debate with you.
Michael Chang December 19, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Why cant we just leave this up to a democratic vote and see what the people want?
Art Fishman December 19, 2011 at 03:40 PM
just wait, the proposal will be out in a few days and then let democracy play out. if the people want it it will happen, and if they dont then it wont. its that simple and it is what makes America great
Janet Sroczynski December 19, 2011 at 04:04 PM
@Jacob - whether you are a "plant" or not, why don't you do some reading and research, if you are up for it - and inform Foxboro Patch readers what will happen to their home values, if a casino goes into Foxboro, Massachusetts. For instance, do you think the value of their home is going to go up or down, with a casino......and provide links with your reading and research. By the way, that is especially gracious of you to provide a billionaire......Wynn....with "free help" -as you state above; that you are "willing to help Wynn drive their message on these boards." I hope you are getting paid for your services.
Steve December 19, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Janet, Maybe Jacob does not posses a crystal ball like the one you obviously own. How else could one be so adamant about fall out from a proposal that no one has seen??? The above posters are right, do the smart thing and hear the proposal and then make up your mind. For all you know, this could be the best thing to ever happen to Foxboro. I truly doubt it but I am at least willing to wait and hear. As for “plants”, I can see the both sides using them. I take everything I read on blogs with a grain of salt.
Jacob December 19, 2011 at 05:56 PM
With increased revenue we will be able to pour money back into our schools. We will also be able to lower property taxes. This in turn will draw the attention of likely buyers. The education system goes hand and hand with property values. Look at towns like Needham. This system seems to be working for them. @Janet on a personal level, I have family members out of work and I want to see this go through do help get them and others back to work.
Amy Ashford December 19, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Readers, please do your research and read all posts by "Jacob"and you will see that this person is obviously a plant. Where do you really live? You are not a registered voter in Foxboro, not listed as a resident at all.
Janet Sroczynski December 19, 2011 at 06:25 PM
@Steve.....Massachusetts has long been known as the state of Higher Education. I would like to see it stay that way. If you want to call that a "crystal ball" then that's your choice of wording.
Buck Farack December 19, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Steve, I asked you a while back how it was that a town vote could be made conditional upon limiting Wynn to implementing what he presents in his proposal but I never received a reply. I do recall you talking about ironclad guarantees, how the town would have to remain extremely vigilant, how they could hire special counsel in light of the fact that the town counsel situation is a mess and they haven't been involved at all. I agree with you completely that all sides on these blogs have their own agenda/perspective but Wynn making a proposal isn't exactly an agenda-less excercise and there's no way the town will be able to make him stick to the proposal he gives today, five years from now.
Buck Farack December 19, 2011 at 06:58 PM
On a brighter note, the MA unemployment rate has dropped to 7% so maybe things aren't as dire on the jobs front previously protrayed http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/12/15/mass_jobless_rate_dips_to_7_percent_in_november/
Steve December 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Buck, are you really saying that towns have no power and businesses can just do whatever they want? That is crazy. We live a society of rules and regulations and laws. True a law passed today can be changed down the road (or women would not have the right to vote). Times change and so do laws. But changing these laws/regulations requires votes. That is the way our government works. If Wynn proposes that in his resort/casino the gaming section would be no larger than 10% and the town found this acceptable, then we would amend our current by-laws (which prohibit gambling) to state that venues with a gambling license are restricted to no more that 10% of the floor space dedicated to gambling, or something to that effect. Why is that so hard to understand? It is up to us to ensure that we mandate this or any other restrictions that we would want. Can the bylaw be changed later, of course it could. Hey, gambling was allowed here in Foxboro for decades until we changed the bylaw prohibiting it in the early 2000’s.
Jacob December 19, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Amy make some good counter points instead of calling me out on every post. Im going to continue to post regardless of what you think.
Buck Farack December 19, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Steve, it has happen in other towns where they thought they were getting one thing and ended up with another. I'm not sure how they could effectively condition the town vote on all the restrictions that would be necessary to prevent the nightmare scenario you yourself seem to think needs to be restricted. I certainly don't think a percentage of floor space will work when it's a 200 acre parcel, they could still make an enormous casino or they could use all manner of tricks & obfuscation to make their percentage numbers work. Have you seen site maps of Foxwoods/Mohegan? I'm not sure what the percentage of floor space is gaming but if you factor in all the other stuff they have there I imagine it's a relatively small percentage. I MIGHT consider a gross square footage limitation but again not sure that in the long run it'll hold up or how you'd condition a vote on it. These people are slick, loaded and could care less about the town. They'll build it they way they want and the town can spend years and untold amounts of money trying to fight them on the restrictions. It's like having a pitbull and making sure you keep it properly restrained - I'd just as soon not have the pit bull there in the first place if it requires that much vigilance. So the answer is no, I don't believe the town will be able to keep effective limits on it once the approval has been given.
Steve December 19, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Wow, well I guess you got me. Just can’t argue with that logic!! I really do feel foolish now for wanting to see a proposal before I made up my mind. Can I call you on other social/governmental issues??
Janet Sroczynski December 19, 2011 at 11:05 PM
I see that Class Action Lawsuits, are also a part of the history of these casinos. Plenty to read on the web regarding it too. Just a thought, in evaluating these casinos/proposals. And a homeowner and/or business owner, adversely affected and living near these casinos, could easily make that argument regarding property loss/value/loss of income/business and so forth. ie...hardship and financial hardship...on it goes.
Amy Ashford December 20, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Jacob, post all you want, that's what you're getting paid for. Just a heads up to the readers.
Bill Grieder December 20, 2011 at 01:00 AM
Until this item either happens or is rejected, it will at times be a challenge for all to be respectful of opposing views and civil in the discussion.
Janet Sroczynski December 20, 2011 at 04:45 PM
@ Jacob - on Monday, December 19, 2011 you wrote: "@ Janet - on a personal level, I have family members out of work and I want to see this go through, do help get them and others back to work.....".......first off, a typo you made....I'm assuming you meant to say "to help".......................here's a suggestion for you, to be helpful.......have you gone along to: 1) http://www.inc.com - and in the upper right hand corner clicked on "Inc 500/5000 List" - where it will bring up The Top 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America List.......when you are at that website, a direct-link is provided to each company, and the job application process can begin immediately. That is 500 companies, at your fingertips. 2) Try registering for the various Venture Capital Forums in the area......A) WPI - at http://www.WPIVentureForum.org -and sign up to receive their newsletter, or email them at: ventureforum@wpi.edu.........B) MIT - same thing there too and C) BVF -Brown University, same thing there too. Have you or your family members contacted OSU.edu or read on their website?.....if not, same thing there too. Just a few quick suggestions.
Jacob December 20, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Janet, I am fortunate enough to have a job because I attended a great university (yes, we all still have typos one time or another) and have worked hard my whole life to get to this point. I learned about working hard from my father, who has worked at a crane construction company his entire life. His company is struggling and it came to one point last year when his healthcare got cut for 4 months. His company and many others across the state need the business. If not he will be laid off, less that 5 years away from his retirement. Not everyone was fortunate enough as me to go to school and find a great job. I'd like to think we can be fair to everyone despite their education levels. My father and others do not fall under your inc.com list. Thanks but no thanks.
Jacob December 20, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Haha good one. Atleast my posts will be insightful and not filled with misinformation.
Janet Sroczynski December 20, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Your example above @ Jacob, reminds me of the many bankers that got layed off and/or corporate re'orged.....only to find no job or no work, for themselves. In which case my response would be, create a new bank...and run it. Entrepreneurial......hope it helps. I work @ Jacob, because I enjoy it. Sure, I have bills to pay......but I like to work....it's a hobby. Look around for a business to buy, positive cash-flow needs to be there......chat with accountants/attorneys etc... who currently have a book-of-business for sale, just ask them......and see what they have available. Other people looking to retire, looking to sell their business, that creates opportunity. By the way, that is not my Inc.com list. I did not put it together, so please do not give me credit....where it's not due me. Someone else put that list together, I simply refer to it from time to time. Cheer up would ya'.......................
Jacob December 20, 2011 at 05:26 PM
@Janet must be nice. How could you ever make this comparison to bankers? They have thousands of dollars to afford being laid off. Someone my fathers age who has been in construction his whole life would be dead broke. Obviously you cannot relate to this situation because you cant grasp the concept that some people out there have it tough. Frankly, someone like my father would probably find it offensive.
Janet Sroczynski December 20, 2011 at 10:51 PM
@Jacob - go back in and re-read several of my posts to you. Your post above couldn't be more wrong.....hence why I suggested the Inc.com -500/5000 List of the Fastest Growing Companies in America List. Which you so quickly shot-down.....and did not take the time to even review, given the hasty response you sent along. The post will be read by many other people, I assure you....and they are more than welcome for the 500 companies at their fingertips, to review for job application work/opportunites and so forth. There are additional options for Foxboro and other surrounding towns to consider, in terms of employment and jobs....than just casinos. And that listing of The 500 Top Companies in America List, is proof of it. In your earlier post @Jacob, you mentioned how well educated you are and that you went to a "great university." With that said, surely you could help your father out. There are so many opportunities out there....sure, you might have to look a little harder, but the opportunities are out there.
Janet Sroczynski December 20, 2011 at 11:22 PM
@ Jacob - if it is of some help to you/others reading this post, then I suggest you request a copy of a Letter to the Editor that I had written and subsequently published in the local "Buzz" newspapers....that being it published in The Easton Buzz, The Mansfield Buzz, the Norton Buzz and the Sharon Buzz newspaper circulations. I wrote it on August 9, 2007 - and it would have published shortly thereafter. Write and/or call the group or check your local library for an archived copy of it. In that Letter to the Editor, I "floated" the idea of a TWLC-Tiger Woods Learning Center - 1) http://www.twlc.org -for the area next to The TPC of Boston at Norton, Massachusetts golf facility/grounds/William F. Connell Blvd. I suggested putting in a new library within the facility, nature trails, bike paths and an eDistance Learning program in an educational setting, with reference to viewing the grounds at Stonehill College for ideas. That is construction job(s), just not a casino.
Amy Ashford December 20, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Janet, don't waste your time and energy corresponding to "Jacob" He is not a resident of Foxboro, he is mostly likely hired by Wynn working for a consulting firm. He says he is a resident, but is not listed anywhere in Foxboro in public records. Is that picture on your Facebook page your dad on a crane? The Facebook page you opened up right when the casino plans were announced? Why were you thrown off No-Fox Vegas?
Janet Sroczynski December 20, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Thanks Amy Ashford for the heads-up. The information I provided above is also for other readers on the Patch too......honest readers of the Patch, who might be looking for suggestions.
Charlie December 21, 2011 at 04:02 AM
Listen folks I am a resident of foxboro and I vote yes on this casino and resort as long as infrastructure improvements r made, although I do want to see the proposal which we will soon enough, been a resident for 39 yrs and have 2 wonderful children, hope everyone has a great day and hopefully it doesn't divide the town, for some reason we think it's ok that our own keep moving away, believe Me this is an opportunity, there r some that will fight a 90,000 ft dept store, sometimes it really makes me and my wife wanna throw up,

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