Videos: King Street Zoning Workshop and Planning Board, December 2, 2010

Here are complete videos of the 12/2/02 meeting of the King Street Zoning Workshop Subcommittee (2h 14m) and the Planning Board meeting (1h 26m) that immediately followed it. The workshop was recorded by Mary Likins, and the Planning Board meeting was recorded by Lachlan Ziegler. Click for the meeting agendas.

While there will be future meetings for the public to comment on King Street’s proposed zoning revisions, it remains unfortunate that those who abut properties on King Street have yet to be notified by mail in a systematic way. Best practices would suggest that stakeholders be invited to discussions early, before a lot of time and effort have been invested in a particular set of proposals.

For example, at the December 2 workshop former Ward 3 City Councilor Bob Reckman suggested that developers be allowed to build all the way to the back of their lots (see YouTube video below). This presumably would imperil the buffer that’s currently required between commercial and residential lots on King Street. Or consider the opinion voiced by Chamber of Commerce member Ed Etheredge at the King Street workshop of November 13, where he objected to imposing design standards on the sides of buildings not visible from public streets, as this could give abutters more power to object to proposals.

If some residential abutters had been present at either of these workshops, they might have expressed concerns about sentiments like these.

King Street Zoning Workshop Subcommittee, 12/2/02


Planning Board, 12/2/02

Here are two short YouTube excerpts (Buffer Zones, Buffer Zones 2) from the December 2 King Street Zoning Workshop Subcommittee meeting, where the participants struggle to balance the car-oriented preferences of many developers with a desire to encourage pedestrian and bike traffic around King Street and its businesses.

Bob Reckman, member of the Zoning Revisions Committee: “…and if we can get the streetscape right, then we can trust developers to do whatever they need to do in the back in a way that will give them freedom to make great spaces. I mean I think we really have to say, ‘We care about the streetscape’, and I don’t care if they want to build all the way to the back, that’s OK with me. You know, I don’t think they should, but I don’t want to prohibit it one way or the other.”

Danielle Kahn, chair of the Zoning Revisions Committee: “It’s still a long walk. This is making the assumption that the setback doesn’t matter, that as long as you get your landscaping right, it doesn’t matter what the distance is. It’s hard to agree with that… Do we want to promote pedestrians and cyclists or not?…”

Wayne Feiden, director of Northampton’s Office of Planning and Development: “It’s not more friendly for pedestrians if there are empty sites….”

Dillon Sussman, member of the Zoning Revisions Committee: “Personally I’m wholeheartedly opposed to having more than two rows of parking in front of the buildings.”

Danielle Kahn: “I agree. And I think that, although I do sympathize with Frank Colaccino and other developers, that we heard in the public meetings that setbacks do matter to people in the community.”

See also:

Videos: King Street Zoning Workshop (11/15/10)
At two points during the workshop, your videographer made brief comments as a member of the public. In essence, these boiled down to urging respect for residents as a key to making mixed-use zoning work. The assumption is that when residents feel respected, they invest in their properties, care for them, and stay for the long term. Businesses then benefit by abutting healthy, attractive, prosperous neighborhoods. Conflict and lawsuits are minimized. Ways to manifest respect include:

  • Early notification of property owners about zoning proposals that would affect them (as suggested by the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association)

  • Preserving or enhancing the size and quality of the buffer zones between residential and non-residential properties (see the David Teece and Edwards Square controversies for how much residents care about these buffers)

  • Requiring design standards for all sides of commercial buildings (not just the parts visible from public streets)

  • Retaining special permit requirements for large projects (as suggested by former ZRC chair Joel Russell)
Planning Staff Comments on King Street Alternative Proposal (11/7/10)

King Street Zoning Revisions: Chamber Proposal vs. Alternative (11/5/10)

Video: Zoning Revisions Committee Meeting of 10/6/10; King Street Forum Comments; Planning Staff Offer Suggestions

Joel Russell Explains Resignation from Zoning Revisions Committee; Comments on King Street Rezoning (9/22/10)

Videos: Zoning for King Street, 9/29/10; Sussman, Horton, Budgar

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

“The Place Making Dividend”

Video: Insights into a Lively Downtown

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.