Here are excerpts from local newspaper reports on the lawsuit between Kohl Construction and several abutters in the North Street neighborhood. The abutters dispute Kohl’s title and rights-of-way in portions of his land between North Street and the new bike trail…
Kohl’s project was a frequent reference point in a lengthy public discussion about a wetlands ordinance that became law last year.
Intended to codify city policies on wetlands, the ordinance sparked debate about the city’s philosophy of encouraging in-fill development near downtown Northampton and Florence in order to alleviate building pressures on the outlying rural areas. The new Sustainable Northampton Plan contains suggestions for steering development in that direction.
Downtown residents, led by the North Street Neighborhood Association, have argued that the few green spaces near the downtown areas are worth preserving.
“This project is kind of the case study of our concerns with the wetlands ordinance and the ‘smart growth’ compact philosophy,” said Adam R. Cohen, a member of the North Street Neighborhood Association, this week. “If they start paving over green space in downtown Northampton, they’re going to hurt an amenity that people really like about Northampton.”
Contacted Thursday, Kohl said he was aware of the lawsuit but had not read it. Kohl has retained Michael Pill, a Shutesbury attorney to represent him in the case.
“It’s an appropriate thing to bring to Land Court,” Kohl said. “I assume we’ll work it out there.”
Kohl earlier delineated wetlands on the property and must now take on the more complicated task of determining the number and precise locations of vernal pools, as well as any species these unique resources harbor.
‘It’s a difficult project,’ said Young, noting that vernal pools are believed to exist within the wetlands on the site. ‘If there are amphibians, they’ll start migrating within the next couple of weeks.’