Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Common Sense Zoning Tweak

Amherst Town Meeting will take up discussion of article 32 tonight, the second in a "package" of zoning amendments (unanimously supported by the Planning Board) meant to stimulate smart growth development in commercial centers; although North Amherst NIMBYs seem to be the main organized opposition to anything development related that also involves residential uses. 

By reducing minimum lot area and frontage required for development the change would obviously allow for in-fill development on smaller parcels of land.

One other important change would be the way height is measured on a proposed building.  Non usable pitched portions of roofs would no longer be counted towards maximum height.

Kind of like those rear fins that were all the rage on cars in the 1950s, except a pitched roof is far more useful in dealing with heavy snows, solar panel placement or communications antennas.

Combine this new way of measuring with the increase by five feet to a new 55 foot maximum height allowance, and a developer could squeeze out an entire extra floor.  That too is encouraged by increasing the maximum number of floors on a building from four to five.

Amherst has a well earned anti-business reputation built up over generations of obstructionism.  Town Meeting killed more sweeping changes to the zoning bylaws last year with the narrow defeat of Form Based Zoning.

The changes in this article, like article 31 approved last week, are incremental improvements vitally necessary for a healthy mix of much needed development.

No comments: