Northampton’s Rezoning Subcommittee held its fifth meeting at Forbes Library on August 11. The two members of the City Council (Michael Bardsley, David Murphy) and one member of the Planning Board (Kenneth Jodrie) discussed a draft ordinance on the mission and composition of a Zoning Revisions Committee, also known as the Rezoning Committee. Subcommittee member George Kohout of the Planning Board was unable to attend but was instrumental in drafting the ordinance.
The Rezoning Subcommittee made some relatively minor changes to the draft ordinance and intends to present it to the Planning Board at the latter’s August 28 meeting. If necessary, the Subcommittee will meet again at Forbes Library at 5pm on September 8.
Here is a 51-minute Google video of the entire meeting. Three points to consider:
- While the Zoning Revisions Committee is intended to follow the Sustainable Northampton Plan, reasonable people might disagree on what is sustainable. For example, given a half-acre of open space within walking distance of downtown, some people might say developers should be encouraged to build housing units on it. Others might say the space is better used as home gardens that will also absorb stormwater and help mitigate flooding.
- The Planning Board will be the body that appoints members to the Zoning Revisions Committee.
- Some worry that between the committee’s three “expert” members, the member representing business concerns, and the member from the Planning Board, the committee as a whole may tilt too much in favor of dense development, and fail to give enough weight to the needs and desires of residents in “traditional neighborhood and receiving areas” (see proposed land use map below).
Here is the draft ordinance (unrevised) discussed in the video. This draft may also be downloaded as a PDF.
orange zones are “Traditional Neighborhood and Receiving Areas”. The
light green zones are “Conservation Development and Sending Areas”.
Video: August 4 Rezoning Subcommittee
…it is not
always clear how to translate the Sustainable Northampton Plan into new laws. For example, a 2006 Sustainable Northampton survey
found that 89% agreed that “Development
Should Be Encouraged At Densities And Locations That Can Support
Transit”. On the other hand, 90% agreed that “We Should Protect More
Open Space & Wildlife Corridors”. It is entirely possible that many
survey respondents were not aware that compact development might mean a
loss of open space around where they live.