Here are two YouTube videos from the 7/14/11 meeting of Northampton’s Planning Board. Both videos were recorded by Adam Cohen. The first video is 29 minutes long and shows Planning Director Wayne Feiden suggesting zoning map changes. These changes include extending the Central Business District down parts of Conz and Hawley Streets. The intent is to ease requirements for businesses. Another proposal is to create a new category of building called “Historic Institutions”. The intent is make it easier to adapt former religious and educational buildings to other uses. The Planning Board found Feiden’s proposals worthy of further development. The public will have opportunities to comment.
The second video is 46 minutes long and shows members of the former Zoning Revisions Committee presenting highlights from their final report. The committee aimed to suggest ways to change Northampton land use regulations to reflect the goals of the Sustainable Northampton Plan. In particular, the committee wanted to get more use from existing structures, to reduce car travel, and to make it easier to add a moderate number of housing units within walking distance of urban centers.
In the video, the ZRC recommends making it easier to operate small businesses from home, as long as impacts on abutters are minimized. The ZRC also favors increasing density in urban residential districts URA, URB and URC, primarily through reducing lot size and open space requirements, while preserving most requirements for off-street parking.
The Planning Board will review the ZRC’s recommendations in depth at later public meetings this summer and fall. Some concerns voiced by the public on July 14 included:
- Loss of recreational open space in urban areas
- Loss of space for urban home gardens
- More development and parking lots pressing up against lot lines, displeasing abutters
- Home businesses that are open early in the morning or late into the evening might disrupt residences nearby
- Social equity: It appears that the already-denser districts URB and URC would be impacted more than URA, even though some URA zones are within walking distance of urban centers
- Young families often prefer detached starter homes with private yards, as opposed to apartments which might feel cramped. The city should give more thought to accommodating this important demographic segment.
Zoning Revisions Committee Final Presentation
Hanging on to Our Families with Young Children – Implications for Urban Design
Clarifying Our Position on Smart Growth
Making Smart Growth Better: Critiques, Guidelines, Cautions