The Sustainability Plan: Infill, Forests, Wetlands and Whom to Email

Northampton’s Planning Board will hold two two-hour workshops to review the Sustainability Plan (PDF) on August 9 and 16. The public is encouraged to send comments to

Here are several passages of particular interest from the plan, with emphasis added. The plan’s authors have anticipated that infill might not be popular with neighboring residents. Infill’s more benign face is in the development of paved-over spaces, urban brownfields, dilapidated structures, and vacant individual home lots. However, in the case of Kohl Construction’s condo proposal for North Street, their intention to develop 5.49 acres of urban forest and encroach on wetlands and a brook conflict with many of the Sustainability Plan’s ecological goals.

Page 11: In and around downtown and in existing denser developed areas such as the village centers, encourage infill development of vacant and underutilized land, or areas that are currently zoned and targeted for development, such as the Business Park, before developing rural areas and after considering required green space.

Page 13: Add parks, greenspace and appropriate agriculture on city-owned land or on larger infill development parcels where possible to keep urban and village centers attractive.

Page 16: Potential Conflicts…The need for infill and greater density of downtown development, including reuse of existing structures, lies in contrast to the desire of many people to live in single family homes with yards and nearby green space and to not have more development in their neighborhood.


Goal EN-1: Protect valuable and sensitive ecological resources (land, air, water, habitat, species)

1. Prioritize and preserve quality wetlands by encouraging development in densely populated areas and in clusters.

2. Protect and conserve water supplies (drinking, surface, groundwater, recharge areas, aquifers) and continue to enforce groundwater protection regulations…

4. Conserve wetlands with programs to ensure no net loss of total wetlands (existing area of approximately 3,000 acres).

5. Preserve floodplains for flood storage and, where appropriate, habitat values.

6. Preserve existing forests, floodplains, wetlands, and agricultural soils of high ecological value.

7. Protect rare and endangered plants and animals and important wildlife corridors…

Page 24: Goal OS-3: Preserve natural and cultural resources and the environment

1. Preserve the character of rural areas, farms, forests, and rivers.

2. Manage conservation properties to restore plant and animal habitats.

3. Preserve the environment and cultural and natural resources through land and easements and regulation changes.

4. Protect important ecological resources, including surface and groundwater resources, plant communities, and wildlife habitat.

5. Preserve ecological linkages and wildlife corridors, especially water-based linkages.

6. Have the City take a lead in protecting architectural and cultural history.

7. Consistently apply the criteria for preservation of the environment and resources across all neighborhoods and areas.

Page 28: Create a program to expand public forests for sequestering carbon.

Responsibility: Tree Committee, Department of Public Works

Present a report for public review that identifies where, as allowed by state law, the City land use ordinances could further address greenhouse gas emissions, and identify the local costs in implementation.

Responsibility: Energy Resources Commission, Energy Officer, Office of Planning And Development

Page 65: [Glossary] Infill Development The development of vacant, usually single, parcels of land in an otherwise built-up area. Infill development provides an attractive alternative to new development by reducing loss of critical and resource lands to new development, and by focusing on strengthening older neighborhoods while reducing the cost of extending infrastructure into newly developing areas.

Page 69: City Forests
Costs to plant saplings, $5 per tree; and for larger trees, $250 per tree. About 2.5 acres (one hectare) of forest can absorb the equivalent emissions of 100 passenger cars, and 2.67 trees absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide.

See also:

Pictures of Kohl Construction’s Condo Plans
Total Parcel Size: 5.49 [acres]
Total Parking Spaces Proposed: 66

Proposed Changes to Northampton Wetlands Protection: Making Way for Infill
The Ordinance Committee will discuss these ordinances in a public
meeting on July 24, 6:00pm at 212 Main Street in City Council Chambers.
We encourage citizens to attend.

Wetlands protection is a priority for NSNA… There is concern that
“infill” is being excessively prioritized over urban wetlands and

Community Tree Ordinances and Bylaws for Massachusetts Communities

See our Citizen Forester article for November 2003 “Air Quality, Public Health and the Role of Urban Forests”.

Cooling Our Cities
[PDF]: A fact sheet on tree planting as a way to save money and
electricity. [Original link pointed to withdrawn resource – we found
another source for this fact sheet]

Trees and Sustainability: Urban Air Quality:
This 12 part brochure from the University of Lancaster in the UK,
nicely summarizes the issues around urban trees and air quality with

Beginning in 2003, many Massachusetts communities will be faced with a
mandate from the USEPA to develop and implement non-point source
pollution and stormwater management plans. Fortunately, urban forestry
strategies can help satisfy many of these stormwater management
requirements in a cost effective manner. Trees, forests, and other
natural areas effectively manage water through interception,
evopo-transpiration, and infiltration. Together, these processes can
significantly reduce peak stormwater flows, stabilize base flows, and
naturally filter drinking water.