Lenox zoning laws are clear on Miraval plan
To the editor:
An open letter to the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals:
Miraval has the right to purchase the Cranwell property and do whatever it wishes with it as long as it complies with the existing zoning permit and the town's zoning bylaw. Without my commenting on the issues as to the rights of the condominium owners, that right would include making the property an exclusive venue for the Miraval guests only. The company could do that without any application to, or decision by, your board.
However, since the company does not want to be limited by the existing permit and the bylaw it has requested relief from your board. It is incumbent upon you to act in furtherance of the purposes for which the zoning bylaw was adopted, one of which is "to preserve and increase amenities." One of the consequences of the proposed development, the closing off of the property to the general public, not only would not be in keeping with the purpose of the bylaw but would be in derogation of the bylaw since it would removing amenities presently existing in town.
I submit that as set forth in Section 9.3.2 subsection 3 of the zoning bylaw, you are mandated to deny the application if: The failure of the board to grant the requested relief will not cause any hardship, financial or otherwise, to the petitioner; the granting of the application will cause substantial detriment to the public good; the granting of the application will nullify or substantially derogate from the intent or purpose of the bylaw.
Miraval is not obligated to buy the Cranwell property if this application is denied and therefore will not suffer any hardship if its application is denied. The granting of the application will create a substantial detriment to the public good in that it will create a venue where guests will remain on the premises rather than venture into the community and patronize the town's merchants, restaurants and other venues.
Finally, the granting of the application will be in derogation of the express purpose of the bylaw in that it will remove amenities presently existing in the town.
If you, as the Zoning Board of Appeals, feel that despite the bylaw you can grant the application, then it is incumbent upon you to condition your approval upon the owners including a covenant to allow the amenities which are presently open to the public (golf course, spa, salon, restaurants, grounds) to remain open to the public at reasonable rates so they may be utilized by all residents and visitors to the town.
If Miraval feels it can't operate without the requested relief or with a covenant, then it does not have to buy the property.
Louis Soloway, Lenox