Rochester Farms permit vacated as project withdrawal continues

Jan 26, 2018

Rochester's Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to withdraw a special permit for Rochester Farms on January 25, after the developer requested permission to withdraw the project from consideration.

Rochester Farms would have been located on the old airport property on Marion Road (Route 105) in Rochester, but developer Craig Canning requested that the ZBA accept withdrawal after the project after abutters brought several lawsuits against Canning and Rochester's Planning Board.

The Planning Board gave Canning a special permit to sell items in a residential area months before Canning asked for the project to be withdrawn.

The project was applauded by some neighbors, while others felt it wasn't actually an agricultural proposal at all.

Kenneth and Marion Cutler argued that Canning's plan was actually an industrial operation, camouflaged as an agricultural venture. The couple accused the Planning Board of not doing due diligence while reviewing the Rochester Farms application.

Additionally, the Cutlers filed lawsuits against the project in the Wareham District Court and the Plymouth County Superior Court.

Canning said that the multiple lawsuits would simply be too expensive to fight, and instead decided to withdraw the Rochester Farms project entirely.

While the special permit has been vacated, one of the stipulations laid out between the Cutlers and Canning is that the responsibility of withdrawing the site plan itself be given back to to the Planning Board.

Until Planning Board members agree to vacate the site plan approval, the project can't be officially withdrawn.

It is unclear what Canning intends to do with the property; neither he nor the Cutlers were in attendance at the meeting.

ZBA member David Arancio was curious whether vacating the permit in this case was with or without prejudice. Vacating with prejudice would permanently shelve the project in the future. "Could he come back in two months and put this before the board again?" he asked Town Counsel Blair Bailey.

Bailey explained that as the vacating of the permit was part of a court stipulation, it depended on the wording of the stipulation.

The Cutlers' representative said that there was no wording in the stipulation that would prevent Canning from resubmitting the project in the future.