NSNA Petition Signature Total Reaches 2,217

The North Street Neighborhood Association will present 1,358 new petition signatures at today’s City Council meeting. Adding to the 859 signatures submitted on August 16, the new total is 2,217. This includes 1,470 signatures from residents of Northampton and 747 from non-residents. The population of Northampton is estimated to be 28,592, so over 5% of residents have signed in less than two months. The petitions began circulating on July 21.

The City Council meeting will take place at 7:15pm in City Council Chambers, 212 Main Street, behind City Hall. Concerned citizens are urged to attend.

The petitions call upon Mayor Clare Higgins and the Northampton City Council to:

1) Pass an ordinance to protect “significant trees”
such that all “significant trees”, whether on public or private land, may not be cut down in whole or substantial part without permission from the Northampton Tree Committee or other appropriate official body. A significant tree is one which is 75 years old or older, or is 3 or more feet in diameter at chest height. The Tree Committee would take into account whether the tree is diseased, damaged, or poses a danger to people or property, and whether not taking action on the tree would impose a hardship on the property owner that exceeds the public’s interest in preserving the tree.

2) Revise Northampton’s wetlands protection ordinance to emphasize that new development should not occur within 100 feet of a wetland in any part of the city unless exceptional circumstances apply,
such as the property owner demonstrating to the city that their hardship in being restrained from development exceeds the public’s interest in protecting wetlands.

To sign the petition, please download the MS Word version or the Rich Text File version and mail the completed petition to North Street Neighborhood Association, 351 Pleasant Street, PMB 222, Northampton, MA 01060-3961.

See also:

Ask the City Council to Stand Up for Wetlands on September 6

Text of the Wetlands and Vernal Pool Ordinances to Be Taken Up by the City Council on September 6

Northampton’s Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Floyd Flood Damage Reported Behind View Avenue; Avoid Building on Filled Wetlands
In a table of Existing Mitigation Strategies, the plan includes a “100 foot buffer around wetlands and the wetland resource area itself…” It says this strategy has been “Effective”, and says that an option to improve it would be to “Strengthen Wetland Ordinance”…

One of the “Priority Actions” is to “Consistently enforce the Wetlands Protection Act to maintain the integrity of the 200’ riverfront area, wetlands and wetland buffer areas.”

EPA: Wetlands and Flood Protection
Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface-water runoff from pavement and buildings.

Springfield Wetland Regulations: A minimum of a fifty (50) foot undisturbed buffer
As with protection for significant trees, once again our friends in Springfield are outpacing Northampton when it comes to environmental protection. Here are excerpts from Springfield’s Wetland Protection Regulations currently in force…

Contrast Springfield’s regulations with the ones that will come before Northampton’s City Council on September 6. The latter will encourage development to encroach as close as 10 feet to wetlands in downtown districts…

Northampton Open Space Plan: This loss of habitat and natural flood buffering areas is Northampton’s most serious environmental problem
…pollution from stormwater runoff…remains the most significant threat to water quality…

..Although Northampton has diverse plant and animal habitats, the habitat is not as productive as it once was. Like most areas in New England, wetlands were filled to allow development, prior to federal and state wetlands protection acts. Even with the passage of those acts, small amounts of wetlands, especially isolated wetlands, continue to be lost or degraded because of nearby development. As development extends up valley corridors and increasingly up hillsides, habitats are being fragmented. This fragmentation is degrading the range and productivity of the flora and fauna in those areas. (p.20) …As development occurs, especially development with little sensitivity to the community’s views, some scenic views are being lost. (p.22)

…New development is not contributing to the preservation of open space and is converting open space to housing much faster than open space is being preserved…