Members of Preserve Monroe, a newly formed environmental group, attended the July 14 planning board meeting dressed in green clothes to show their opposition to the Rye Hill Preserve. The group was created in late June and comprises over 200 residents, most of whom share frustrations over the town board’s approach to this development project.
“Our goal is to preserve Monroe. Really, to stop overdevelopment,” said Carol Hawxhurst, co-founder of Preserve Monroe and one of many residents with personal roots in the area. “There’s a lot of history, and I know there’s development...but to this magnitude?”
The group aims not only to keep residents informed of town meetings and updates but also to encourage and support involvement with their local government.
“When it was just Carol and it was just a couple, maybe three community members...they were sort of brushed aside,” said Maureen Richardson, fellow resident and co-founder of Preserve Monroe. “We formed this group because we don’t like how individual citizens are treated when they go up to these developers or the town board at large. We’re there to stand behind other community members.”
While the group wants to conserve the area, they’re not against all development. Hawxhurst and Richardson believe that appropriate development can address the town’s needs without destroying its natural ambiance.
“We need village apartments, we need someplace that’s designed for walkability, someplace that’s designed for seniors,” said Richardson, noting that the Rye Hill Preserve lacks much of these qualities.
The planning board meeting where Preserve Monroe appeared featured a discussion of the Rye Hill Preserve between the planning board and Jeffrey D. Buss, attorney for SunBrook Partners. While no public comments were allowed, residents still spoke via the foliage hues of their shirts and occasional chatter.
“We’re here to listen to what the town wants...I assume that some people would prefer to see it maybe naked forever, said Buss, referring to the development site. His comment prompted a ripple of yesses from the crowd. “That’s not our proposal folks,” he responded.
At the end of the session, the planning board assured residents that they have their best interests in mind as they investigate this project. “Remember, we work for you,” said Jeff Manson, planning board member, who got roaring applause from the crowd.
We formed this group because we don’t like how individual citizens are treated when they go up to these developers or the town board at large. We’re there to stand behind other community members. - Maureen Richardson, fellow resident and co-founder of Preserve Monroe