Videos: Planning Board Meeting of 8/13/09; Special Permits for Heavy Public Uses

These two videos (part 1, part 2) cover the complete 8/13/09 meeting of Northampton’s Planning Board. The recording was made by Ben Spencer. The first video is 1 hour 28 minutes long and addresses these agenda items:

7:00 P.M. Request by Marge Curello for Special Permit/Site Plan Amendment to change the house plans/elevations for the single family house at 44 High St, Florence, Map ID 17C-167.

7:20 P.M. Request by Jerome Szawlowski for Special Permit for frontage reduction to create a new single family house lot at 25 Henry St, Northampton, Map ID 32C-311.

7:50 P.M. Request by Forish Construction, Inc. for Site Plan Approval to construct a 5,836 square foot auto dealership (Lia Kia) at 263 King St, Northampton, Map Id 24B-67.

The second video is 35 minutes long and address this agenda item:

Board discussion about proposed zoning amendment regarding special permits for heavy public use options.

The board was divided on whether it is the proper body to issue special permits for heavy public uses such as the proposed expansion of the Northampton landfill. Member Marilyn Richards favored the idea, but several other members (Mark Sullivan, Kenneth Jodrie, Stephen Gilson, George Kohout) had reservations, believing that the City Council is the more appropriate venue for major political decisions.

0:29:40… Kenneth Jodrie: “I just feel very strongly that this is a decision that has to do with the economics of how the city is run…in fact we say to lots of applicants, ‘Don’t tell us about the economics of it because we don’t deal with that. That’s not our thing.’ That is a big part of the decision on that landfill–the money. And that’s a city councilor decision. That’s all about the finances of the city… If you close that landfill, there’s a huge impact on the city’s budget. It’s a political decision. That’s not a site plan approval issue, and I don’t think it’s…a special permit, at least in the way that we typically deal with special permits.”

0:30:36… Stephen Gilson: “The ramifications…of the landfill are far beyond what we are typically involved in… I think there’s so many issues that are outside what our general background and our decision-making typically covers that I still think it’s a political issue.”

See also:

Gazette: “Lia Kia plan continued to September” (8/13/09)
…Lia Auto Group, the Albany, N.Y.-based company that operates Lia Toyota at 280 King St. and Lia Honda at 293 King St., has submitted plans to the city for a 5,800-square-foot showroom at 263 King St. in what is now a parking lot of Lia Honda, site of the former Agway building.

The project requires site plan approval from the Planning Board, whose members on Thursday were not comfortable holding a scheduled public hearing because of unresolved stormwater permit issues for both the new Lia Kia proposal and the existing Lia Honda building the company developed three years ago…

To Forish’s dismay, the board decided to continue the hearing without discussion to Sept. 10…

Video: Committee on Economic Development, Housing and Land Use, 8/10/09 Meeting
0:56:40-1:50:58 …Should the City Council retain special permit decision-making authority over landfill expansion (the landfill is a “heavy public use”) or transfer that authority to the Planning Board?… Discussion of ballot questions regarding landfill expansion…

Solid Waste Alternatives Study: Information Sessions on August 17, September 14

Video: Special City Council Meeting of 7/30/09; Landfill Ballot Question Rejected

Sunday Republican: “Landfill project prompts debate” (8/2/09)
Ward 4 Councilor David P. Narkewicz submitted an ordinance change that would relieve the council of permitting authority for so-called “heavy public use” projects and give that authority to the Planning Board. As it now stands, the council will decide whether to issue a special permit for the controversial landfill expansion on Glendale Road, if the Department of Public Works brings that project forward…

Narkewicz’ proposal was referred to the Ordinance Committee, the Planning Board and the Committee on Education, Housing and Land Use.

Video and Slides: Public Forum on Innovative Approaches to Manage Northampton’s Solid Waste, 11/19/08
Mayor Clare Higgins asserts that the region has a moral obligation to deal with its trash locally. The Valley Advocate quotes her as saying, “We are providing a regional public service… Western Massachusetts should deal with Western Massachusetts trash. And even leaving the region out of the equation, Northampton has to send its trash somewhere. What are the options? Will we feel good about ourselves if we ship our trash out of state to a poorer community?”

Gary Liss challenges this notion (1:55:10-1:56:30), saying, “I don’t think you have to assume that you have to provide landfill capacity. You could provide transfer capacity. The assumption of having to provide local capacity was in the 80s, when there was a concern that there wasn’t going to be disposal capacity available anywhere, and ‘we’re running out of landfill space’. That was the driver for a lot of the programs of the 80s and 90s. That doesn’t compute anymore with the regional haul…

Water Not Waste Launches to Save Barnes Aquifer

Paradise City Forum: Landfill and Aquifer

Department of Public Works: Landfill Documents