Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bad Form Rising



Select Board member Jim Wald posted to the unofficial Amherst Town Meeting listserve (privately owned by Mother Mary Streeter, protector of all things Larkspur Drive) an ominous sign for proponents of article #17, Form Based Zoning--the most controversial warrant article coming before Fall Town Meeting.

The information packet snail mailed to all Town Meeting members will be slightly delayed because when town staff crammed the quaint 9" by 12" brown manila envelopes with all the information printed on the remains of dead trees, the mailer was overweight by USPS bulk mail standards (and generous are those standards). Yikes!

Of course the main reason was the plethora of paper pertaining to Form Based Zoning. And as pretty as it is with all the color graphs and architectural renderings, as with Godzilla movies, size does matter.

Form Based Zoning is already in trouble because as the name succinctly says it's all about zoning, with zoning requiring a two-thirds super majority of Amherst Town Meeting. And naysayers (NIMBYs) are usually more motivated than calm, rational altruistic members who simply have the best interests of the town at heart.

Town officials should take a hint from the simple two-word description of the zoning amendment and synthesize all the supporting materials down to one single page of text, about the same number Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address.

Town Meeting is about as simple an institution as you can get, so by all means, apply the KISS principle!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm outraged that Town Meeting hasn't already endorsed a large, complicated zoning change that they haven't received in the mail yet. What a bunch of NIMBYs!

LarryK4 said...

Guess I know how you're going to vote.

And what you will dress up as this Halloween: BANANA.

Anonymous said...

Equally outrageous is a town meeting member using email to contact other people and try to inform their views. What does she think this is, a democracy? Wait, isn't this blog the same thing?

Time to move to Syria, Yemen, China, Jordan or one of the few remaining dictatorships before they fall.

LarryK4 said...

The Town Meeting listserve (by using that name for one thing) gives people the mistaken impression that it is an official arm of the town, and it is not.

Now if she changed the name to "Mother Mary's Band of Merry Town Meeting Members" it would be more appropriate.

It also highlights a loophole in the Open Meeting Law in that a quorum of town meeting members can gather on a listserve to discuss upcoming public business but the Select Board, Amherst Redevelopment Authority or Planning Board can't do that.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to a series of namecalling comments on this blog and no actual facts or discussion about the zoning change. A sad mirror of national politics.

LarryK4 said...

Isn't that why you come here, Cowardly Anon Nitwit?

(At least on Mother Mary's Town Meeting listserve there are no Anon comments.)

Anonymous said...

Town meeting memebers are also not required to take the states conflict of interest training. They are exempted.

LarryK4 said...

No interest like self interest.

That's the #1 reason why NIMBYs are sooooo effective at killing things like Form Based Zoning, and why they want to cling to the antiquated town meeting form of government.

Mother Mary started her town meeting listserve in 2003 as a weapon against the Mayor/Council movement, which only lost only by 14 votes.

Anonymous said...

Not even "Mother Mary's Band of Merry Town Meeting Members" would be appropriate, as it includes messages from people who are no longer Town Meeting members, the latest example being a post by Robie Hubley.

Keith Ulrich