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Developer Withdraws Request to Rezone "Satan's Kingdom"

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A plan to turn a 60 acre plot in "Satan's Kingdom" into an industrial park hit a snag on Thursday, when the developer pulled the plug.

Allan Borghesi wanted to rezone about 60 acres in New Hartford and Canton from "residential" to "industrial" and, earlier this summer, it looked like the deal was a sure bet. New Hartford signed off on the proposal in June, but opposition in Canton grew in the interim -- organizing itself on Facebook and through petitions. Now, Borghesi has withdrawn his request.

He said opposition came out in large numbers at a recent public hearing. "At the meeting there were several hundred people," Borghesi said. "In the first evening, probably only 30 had stated their position and I realized this was going to go on for weeks and weeks and weeks."

Borgeshi said he'd worked on other successful industrial developments in Torrington and thought the development in Canton would be a boon to the town's tax base and business climate, "but Canton didn't view it that way," he said. "I was very surprised, but it was wise to realize that it was time to stop."

So what's next? Borghesi said he's not sure. He may develop houses (at least 22 at last count), but he didn't rule out future zoning change requests. "I want to make sure that we do something that we feel the neighbors can feel comfortable with," Borghesi said. "In fact, I visited a couple of neighbors and asked them to meet with me privately just to get their reaction of what some of my thoughts were and I'll do some sketches to see if we can come up with something that they feel very comfortable with."

There's another open question over 8.5 acres of land that Borghesi planned to donate to a local land trust had the zoning change passed. "I'm not sure what's going to happen anymore -- I was trying to provide a buffer for the neighbors -- since the industrial use isn't there anymore, I don't know, I've got to reconsider that option too."

Borgehsi said he hopes to have a new proposal ready in the coming two weeks.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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