Letter to The Republican: “planners and most board members are out of touch with the city’s residents”

Today’s Republican publishes a letter from John Sinton, a retired land-use planner. Here is an excerpt:

Northampton board lax in OK of Hilton site plan

The recent approval of a Hilton Garden Inn site plan by the Northampton Planning Board was heartbreaking. While the public made both rational and impassioned pleas to reject the hotel’s current site plan, the end result showed that planners and most board members are out of touch with the city’s residents.

The planners and the head of the Planning Board worked on their computers and shuffled papers throughout the public session, barely noticing the speakers, some of whom are well-known city residents. All but one of the board members failed to address any of the public’s concerns, limiting themselves instead, to small details and reminding us of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s line that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

…The rotten decision-making process displayed at the meeting will end when the public demands accountability and openness from its administration and a supine City Council.

See also:

Fran Volkmann: Planning Board Needs to Consider Proposals in their Broader Context
At its meeting on Thursday night, the Planning Board addressed only a few of the many “tree” questions and essentially no “forest” questions…

…At no time did it address a single idea, question, or item of information submitted to it in an extensive set of letters and public comment.

The quality of decision-making on the board may well be the single most important determiner of the quality of major projects such as this hotel. The way the board reaches decisions also influences in important ways the level of acceptance of projects by the community. And, not least over the long run, the board’s approach to decision-making determines the level of trust and confidence that the public has in the board and in the Planning Department that guides its work.

Northampton’s Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Floyd Flood Damage Reported Behind View Avenue; Avoid Building on Filled Wetlands