Applicants Sought for Zoning Revisions Committee

Northampton’s Office of Planning and Development is circulating the following announcement:

The Planning Board is Seeking Applicants for the Northampton Zoning Revisions Committee

What is the Zoning Revisions Committee?

The Zoning Revisions Committee will assist the Northampton Planning Board in identifying, developing, and recommending zoning ordinances that serve to implement the Northampton Sustainability Plan. The Zoning Revisions Committee has three main purposes:

  • To review current zoning and recommend revisions as appropriate to
    implement the goals of the Sustainability Plan;
  • To serve as an additional technical resource to the Planning Board in
    matters of zoning revisions;
  • To provide a wide range of opportunities for public input to the zoning
    revision process.

Who will be on the Zoning Revisions Committee?

The committee will consist of nine members:

  • Three members with the technical skills and experience to address zoning, land use, and planning issues;
  • Three members representing broad based community interests;
  • One member representing environmental and conservation interests;
  • One member representing economic development interests;
  • One member from the Planning Board.

Date of first committee meeting: February 2009

Frequency of committee meetings:
The committee will likely meet monthly, with a minimum of one meeting per calendar quarter. The committee may decide to meet more frequently as necessary.

Duration of committee:
The committee will be active for two years, at which time the Planning Board will decide to conclude or extend it.

How to apply:

Please submit a cover letter indicating which skills or interests you would like to represent on the Committee. Complete the form “APPLICATION FOR APPOINTMENT TO ZONING REVISIONS COMMITTEE” which you can obtain from the Planning Board office. You can also download this form from under Hot Topics.

Send your letter and the completed application form to:

Northampton Office of Planning and Development
210 Main St., Rm. 11, City Hall
Northampton, MA 01060

Or email this information to:

Deadline for applications: January 15, 2009

See also:

Video: August 11 Rezoning Subcommittee
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).

Proposed Future Land Use Map (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.

Video: July 28 Rezoning Subcommittee; Comments from Alex Ghiselin and Ward 3 Association

June 30 Rezoning Subcommittee Considers Who Should Shape City’s Future;
Proposals from Joel Russell and Ward Three Association