As an Easton taxpayer, I feel privileged to be among the custodians of a precious gem of 21st century New England: our rural oasis from strip-mall sprawl. My mate and I bought our home here three years ago with great admiration for our new neighbors and predecessors who have had the fortitude to preserve Easton’s rural character.
In the Pennsylvania farm town where I grew up, my siblings and I loved bicycling the 2 miles along our “Sport Hill Road” past cornfields to the village store, and my mother endured a 30-minute drive to Delaware for grocery shopping. Today, three decades later, my parents battle traffic to drive within 3 miles to any one of 6 supermarkets, 8 mega pharmacies, 7 gas stations, and 17 car dealerships. The road is too busy for kids on bikes, the old village store is a bustling bistro, and, with the acres of nearby farms and woods gone, you can hear distant highway traffic from the back yard.
The business district that has been proposed here might seem a “sleepy” or “low-key” project. But changing town zoning regulations to allow commercial expansion in Easton would betray the vision of our forebears and corrode our legacy. In under a decade we would have dismissed the thoughtful 2006 Easton Town Plan of Conservation and Development that townspeople spent five years composing.
Some are under the impression that new mom & pop shops would reduce homeowners’ tax burdens. Citizens For Easton has already debunked that myth; their data show that the opposite could occur (see citizensforeaston.org).
Based on the Easton Courier’s recent reports, others support a business district because the developer is well intentioned. Perhaps he is. But the decision about a zoning amendment should be based not on his character, but on our town’s, which could be changed forever. No matter how architecturally charming, there is abundant evidence in our county and across the country that there would be no turning back after our first shopping center is installed.
If you share my concern, voice your opinion to the Planning & Zoning Board at the town meeting at Helen Keller Middle School on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Adrienne Jane Burke-291 North Park Avenue-Easton