New Milford's Town Council is passing a recommendation on to the land-use boards to make a zone change on the town-owned Still Meadow property just off Route 7.

At Monday's meeting, the council voted 5-3 to recommend changing the zone to B2, which would

allow commercial and light industrial uses.

The hope is the B2 designation will encourage someone to build a hotel or banquet facility on the 19-acre property. At this time, the site is in a multi-family zone.

The change was recommended by the Economic Development Commission, which said B2 would be the "highest and best use of the property."

It would mirror the zoning of the adjacent, commercially zoned 20-acre parcel that fronts Route 7 just north of Starbucks, and make the Still Meadow property on the corner of Fort Hill and Peagler Hill roads more marketable, EDC members believe.

Council member Mary Jane Lundgren asked that the council wait until a Level A aquifer mapping is finished before deciding on a zone change. She is concerned about protecting the aquifer that lies under the property.

Most of New Milford sits over

two aquifers with a DEP rank of Level B.

Resident Anne Cutter, who is running for a council seat, is against the zone change. She believes new regulations will come with the potential Level A mapping, which could affect what developers want to build on the property. Like Lundgren, she wants to protect the aquifer.

Mayor Pat Murphy favors following the EDC recommendation.

"This area is already a regulated area with regards to the aquifer," said Murphy. "Everything we already do in the town is over one of the two aquifers and is regulated by DEP, zoning, the aquifer protection commission."

Murphy noted that with the zone change to B2, when a developer is looking for a site to build a hotel with a banquet facility, the Still Meadow parcel will come up in an Internet search.

Hotel development would provide income for the town while providing services to the community, she said.

In 1998, New Milford spent $2.175 million for the Still Meadow parcel, which is zoned for up to 174 apartments or condominium units. The purchase was made to block a housing development from being built. Since then the town has had a few offers on the property, but no sale has been accepted by voters.

Contact Susan Tuz

at stuz@newstimes.com

or 860-355-7322.