Residents in the small town (pop 9,000) of Canton, Connecticut have organized into a group to stop development of 16 acres of land by the Konover Development Company, which wants to rezone roughly half of the property from residential to commercial to asphalt the way for a 125,000 s.f. Target store. The proposed site, located off of the Route 44 strip development, would be Target’s fourth store in Connecticut, as the Minnesota-based company continues its march into New England. Konover, which controls 28 shopping centers in Connecticut alone, has promised town officials that the Target will bring in ‘over 250,000 in new (property) taxes each year, but the group Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion (CARE) says those numbers are greatly inflated, since: half the land is already zoned commercial and will generate property tax no matter what is built there; the offsetting town costs of police and fire service to the facility have not been measured; and other businesses will close if Target opens, reducing property tax levies. Furthermore, the property is bounded on the north and west by expensive and historic homes dating back to the War of Independence, costing as much as $1 million or more, and such properties will come in for tax abatements, lowering the net benefit to the town. Critics also note that Canton officials just approved a 350,000 s.f. mall to the south of the Konover land, anchored by a 90,000 s.f. Kohl’s department store, and only 2 miles away there is an existing Wal-Mart. Canton’s Plan of Development says that the land in question should not be used for commercial development, and the town does not wish to serve as a regional shopping center. The Plan also warns against turning Route 44 into the “ultimate commercial strip”. Last night over 120 town residents gathered at a Sprawl-Busters forum to discuss the ‘voodoo economics’ of this project. Konover must first get the land rezoned before any further movement on the project, and CARE has vowed to try and keep the land residentially zoned, arguing at an expected hearing on November 14th. that the rezoning is incompatible with the current Plan of Development, and the Konover plan would violate the town’s General Standards for granting a special exception. Konover has taken out full page ads in the local paper saying it has conducted “several years of commnity outreach and research” for this plan, but residents simply say the developer has woefully “missed the target.” Citizens are busy organizing for a large turn out at the hearing on November 14th on rezoning.
For more information, or to help CARE financially, go to www.cantoncare.org.