Jim Nash, a former member of Northampton’s Zoning Revisions Committee, has an excellent letter in today’s Gazette. Here is an excerpt:
What is missing from this zoning package are design standards, regulations that ensure that when development occurs it adheres to our urban streetscape and neighborhood sensibilities. Such regulations are even more important for larger projects. Roadways should not be in setbacks. Structures should be not built on parking lots. Walkways should be required. City blocks should be encouraged. Northampton urban development should look like the Northampton we love, not a collection of townhouses on parking lots in anywhere USA.
Our Office of Planning and Development has had its opportunity to allay citizen concerns but has chosen to minimize impacts rather than present real solutions. Instead of learning from past infill mistakes, this zoning pretends the problems never existed. Approving this package as it stands will invite a new era of contentious residential development from downtown to Bay State, Florence, and Leeds. The discord that accompanied the North Street development will be coming to a neighborhood near you.