Video: Planning Board Meeting of 9/10/09; Heavy Public Use Ordinance Options

Here is a complete video of the 9/10/09 meeting of Northampton’s Planning Board. The first portion is a joint meeting with the City Council’s Ordinance Committee. A discussion of who should make decisions on heavy public uses takes place from 0:00:00-1:49:24 on the video. For the result, see the quote below from the 9/11/09 Gazette. This recording was made by Mimi Odgers of Water Not Waste.


Here is the official agenda of the meeting:

THE PLANNING BOARD AND CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCE COMMITTEE will hold a joint public hearing in Council Chambers, Puchalski Municipal Building, 212 Main Street, Northampton, MA on the following proposed ordinance amendments:

7:00 P.M.
1. Amend Zoning Ordinance §350-5.2 & 10.7 Heavy Public Use (includes landfills) Ordinance – Sponsored by Narkewicz
2. Amend City Ordinance §272 Solid Waste Management and Zoning Ordinance §350-5.2 & 10.7 Heavy Public Use (includes landfills) — Sponsored by the Planning Board
3. Amend Zoning Ordinance §350-8.8 Individual Private Driveways not to exceed slopes of 10%-12%.

Ordinance Committee may continue discussion/meeting upon close of hearing- at a location to be determined on City Hall Campus.

THE PLANNING BOARD in Council Chambers upon close of hearings above, Puchalski Municipal Building, 212 Main Street, Northampton, MA:

8:30 P.M. Continuation of a request by Forish Construction for site plan approval to build a new 5,836+ s.f. dealership (Lia Kia) at 236 King Street.

Other Business:
Northampton Housing Authority Comprehensive Permit—for recommendation to Zoning Board of Appeals.

Letter of Credit -Village Hill
Upcoming planning projects: open space and multi-use trail plan.
Minutes- 8/13

See also:

Gazette: “Planners ask council to keep permit authority” (9/11/09)
The Planning Board Thursday decided against recommending a proposed ordinance change that would move special permit granting authority for the city’s landfill expansion under its wing.

Instead, in a 4-3 vote, the board forwarded its own plan to the Ordinance Committee that calls for amending the heavy public use ordinance to make landfill expansion a legislative decision, rather than a zoning decision that requires a special permit. Voting in favor of this “legislative option” were members Stephen Gilson, Kenneth Jodrie, George Kohout and Jennifer Dieringer.

The other three members – Marilyn Richards, Katharine Baker and Francis Johnson – backed the ordinance amendment presented by Ward 4 City Councilor David J. Narkewicz that would transfer the council’s special permit granting authority for any heavy public use to the Planning Board…

Water Not Waste: “No more Special Permits for Heavy Use projects?” (9/11/09)
A Special Permit for Heavy Public Use projects has been required since the first Northampton Code Book was adopted in 1975. The City Council has authority to grant Special Permits for Heavy Public Use because these projects have significant and serious impacts on the community. This gives voters a voice in the process. Our elected officials are given great responsibility and are expected to make tough decisions and to be held accountable to the voters.

Now, a new plan forwarded by Wayne Feiden, the Director of Planning and Development, proposes to remove the Special Permitting process altogether and instead make it a legislative decision. This would mean NO public hearings for the citizens’ to express their opinions and concerns to the City Council. This also hurts the citizens’ because there is NO appeal process against the permit granting authority. The only recourse that we would have is to place a binding question on the ballot, requiring 20% signatures of the registered voters. This places an unheard of burden on the citizens’ right to appeal a decision of this magnitude.

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

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…

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…