Videos: Zoning for King Street, 9/21/10

Here is a complete video of Zoning for King Street, a public forum hosted at the Bluebonnet Diner on 9/21/10 by Northampton’s Zoning Revisions Committee. This video is 2 hours 2 minutes long.

The first hour is a presentation of proposed zoning changes (PDF, 2MB), including those suggested by the Chamber of Commerce (PDF, 1.3MB). The second hour is devoted to questions and comments from the public. This video was recorded by Adam Cohen.

A second (and similar) public forum on King Street will take place at the Jackson Street School Gym, 120 Jackson Street, on September 29, 7-9pm.

Here are selected YouTube highlights featuring comments from Bill Dwight, Teri AndersonFran Volkmann and Aaron Helfand:

Handout: Questions for Discussion

Slide: How Design Standards Can Shape Chain Store Development (download a PDF of all the slides)

See also:

Northampton Media: “Chaos on King Street” (9/21/10)
Urban planner and land-use attorney Joel Russell abruptly resigned last week from the city’s Zoning Revisions Committee (ZRC), which he chaired.

…[Russell] cited undisclosed health issues as his reason for stepping down…

“I have one request,” Russell wrote: “that the public be presented with some alternative viewpoints (not necessarily fully developed proposals) on the Chamber of Commerce’s proposal for the HB [Highway Business] district on King Street.

“The ZRC,” he continued, ”exists to ensure that the public interest is served, not simply to expedite a proposal put forth by one interest group, however well-crafted and ‘vetted’ it may be.”

“Opposition grows to suburban-style design in Birmingham neighborhoods”
 “The real issue is you have a choice. When a chain store developer – whether it’s a McDonald’s or a Chick-fil-A or a Walgreens – comes to town, they generally have three designs: A, B or C, ranging from Anywhere, U.S.A., to unique, and by that I mean sensitive to local community character,” McMahon said [Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute]. “Which one gets built depends completely on how much pushback the company gets from local residents and officials about design and its importance…” 

TED Video: Ellen Dunham-Jones on Retrofitting Suburbia (7/30/10)
As King Street goes under the microscope, architect Ellen Dunham-Jones talks in Atlanta about the successful reuse of empty buildings and parking lots, and enhancing the attractiveness of major thoroughfares.

Brookhaven, NY: Infill Design Guidelines in Two Pages 
“We were getting plans not in accordance with what people wanted,” says the town’s principal planner, Diane Mazarakis. “We’d get a new building that looked like a warehouse with a gable roof. It met the setback requirements of the code. So we drilled down and started to develop architectural guidelines.”

…The two-page document is “very clear”, Mazarakis says. “A picture tells a thousand words. Graphics are able to get across the intent of the district far better than the verbiage was able to.”

Ward 3 Neighborhood Association Board Calls for Notification of Property Owners When Zoning Changes Are Proposed (9/9/09)
The Ward 3 Association board is concerned that property owners be given proper notification that a zone change is being proposed for their property. This will allow property owners the right to speak about the proposal at public meetings and express support or opposition for changes to the zoning on their parcel. “West Center St. Warfare: Neighbors vs. Developer, Don’t Forget the Lawyers” (6/20/06)
The dispute dates back to Oct. 11, 2003, when loggers felled a stand of maples and other shade trees behind 52 Maple St, outraging homeowners along West Center Street, a short connector off Maple Street…

None of the residents had the slightest hint that some kind of development plan was in the offing…

The problem with the lot from the developer’s perspective were the mature shade trees ringing it to the south and west. They fit the buffer zone criteria to a “T.” The Zoning Board of Appeals, in an October, 2004 ruling, said: “Prior to October 1, 2003, the subject property located within the General Business (GB) district had a dense, mature screening that provided a buffer between it and the abutting properties south and west, complying with chapter 6.5 of the Zoning Ordinance.”

…Now Etheredge is suing the ZBA for Teece, alleging that city zoning, and specifically Section 6.5 of the regulations that created a buffer zone between commercial and residential zones, amounts to an illegal taking of his property, and that the city requiring this buffer zone constitutes a violation of the Constitution of the United States and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. If he wins, the parking and the lights can go right up to fences all over town…

Video: Zoning Revisions Committee Continues to Deliberate King Street, 7/21/10
These charts summarize the zoning changes the Chamber would like to see (download the charts as a high-resolution PDF).

Video: Zoning Revisions Committee Examines King Street Proposals, 6/30/10

Chamber Plans to Take King Street Proposals to Planning Board if Zoning Revisions Committee ‘Bogs Down’ in Process (6/25/10)
Dennis Bidwell, member of the Zoning Revisions Committee and chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee, advises: “If we get to September, we get to October, and we’re feeling like it’s bogged down in process, and meanwhile, folks are waiting for something to happen, we [the Chamber] would go to the Planning Board and say, ‘Act on it’.” 

Video: Chamber Presents “Rezoning King Street” to Planning Board (6/13/10)
Potential areas of controversy include:

  • Allowing more uses without a Special Permit, including hotels. A recent proposal to build a Hilton Garden Inn downtown was extremely controversial. One way to address the public’s desire for good design would be robust infill design standards.
  • Reducing the setbacks between commercial areas and residential neighborhoods
  • Stormwater management problems caused by an increase in impervious surface

Video and Slides: Joel Russell Presents Form-Based Zoning (2/2/10)

Video Highlights from the 10/19/09 Mayoral Debate: Wetlands, King Street, Infill and the BID
Bardsley: “I think we need design standards… Infill isn’t simply cramming in buildings.”

March 10: Zoning Revisions Committee to Meet; Our Suggestions
Before trying to facilitate infill development, might it be best to first establish infill design standards? (see Springfield)

Petition: “Let’s start anew on the hotel” (1/7/10)
Allowing the agreement to expire would enable the city to develop a new process for deciding the future of this site. The undersigned are not opposed to developing the site but rather want to see it developed in a manner that maximizes its value to the whole community. The Pulaski Park/Round House lot lies at the very center of our city, and should become a jewel in the crown of downtown Northampton – a Center that serves our residents, visitors, arts communities, and businesses. We need to develop a workable vision for this site. A carefully designed process that generates a wide range of ideas and public buy-in will provide the groundwork for a successful project going forward.

Northampton Media: “Northampton’s Built Environment: Squandered Public Equity” by Tris Metcalfe, AIA (11/1/09)
Summary of Public Properties Exhibiting Poor Mayoral Management

…5. Round House Lot and Proposed Hilton Garden Inn Hotel: Very poor site design. Illegal zoning process enabled by political rubber stamp. Owners of neighboring historic properties sued the City, winning unknown thousands of tax dollars from a judge very angry at the city’s actions…

Video: Best Practices Workshop Evaluates Public Forum; Hotel Decision-Making Process Scrutinized; Wanting More from Local Media (2008)
The committee members discuss the controversial decision-making process involving the downtown Hilton Garden Inn hotel.

Best Practices: Pictures and Video from the May 13 Public Forum (2008)

Envisioning Sustainable Northampton: Notre Dame Urban Design Presentation – Video and Handout

Envisioning Sustainable Northampton: Notre Dame Urban Design Presentation – Slides