Planning Board officially pulls the plug on farmers market

Mar 23, 2018

The Planning Board officially accepted the withdrawal of plans for a farmers market on Marion Road in Rochester on March 22.

The project, dubbed Rochester Farms, would have included two buildings constructed on four acres of the property: two 7,200 square foot buildings for food processing, and an open-floor-plan market.

The remaining 56 acres, said property owner Craig Canning, would have been agriculturally farmed, with the exception of several acres of wetlands at the back of the property. The fields would have produced seasonal crops to be sold in the market, such as pumpkins, squash, lettuce and carrots.

Rochester's Zoning Board of Appeals gave Canning a special permit to sell items in a residential area months before Canning asked for the project to be withdrawn.

A letter from Canning at the time stated that, due to lawsuits from a few opposing neighbors, the project would not be economically feasible to continue with. The ZBA allowed Canning to withdraw the special permit in January.

Planning Board members were unhappy to see the project disappear.

“I absolutely personally feel [the site plan approval] was very well thought out, a lot of hours of work went into it,” Planning Board Chair Arnie Johnson said. “I feel that approval was the best use of that property for the town as a whole.”

Planning Board member Gary Florindo echoed Johnson’s disappointment.

“I’ve been on this board a long time and that’s the first time something’s come before this board that would have been good for Rochester,” he said. “It would have benefited the town and the residents. I think it’s a shame.”

The Planning Board agreed to allow withdrawal of the site plan application without prejudice. The "without prejudice" designation means that Canning could submit the site plan application review again in the future, should he want to.