Thursday, October 20, 2016

If You Zone It ...

South Prospect Street

The Planning Board approved 1.5 of 3 petition articles all seeking to change zoning from limited business (BL) to general business (BG) on the outskirts of the downtown to encourage the development of mixed use buildings which would bring more employees and residents to the downtown while paying significantly higher property taxes.

Currently the Amherst property tax base is made up of 90% residential and only 10% commercial.  

The change to BG zoning would allow for denser development, aka taller five story buildings, with greater lot coverage, giving developers an incentive to put their property to a higher and better use.

 Triangle and Cottage Streets

The Planning Board unanimously voted not to approve the zoning change for the east side of Triangle Street because they were worried about the mostly owner occupied homes along Cottage Street.

But they did approve the change on the east side of South Prospect Street and about half of the requested change along North Pleasant Street but only for properties on the south side of Hallock Street.

These parcels are of course that much closer to the heart of the downtown and just last month the Planning Board approved Special Permits for 236 North Pleasant that allows developers Barry Roberts and Curt Shumway to have one addition floor, going from three to four.

West side  North Pleasant Street from Cowls Lane down to Hallock but not north of there

The Historical Commission enacted a one year delay back in January on the project so it would be kind of ironic if that delay ends up benefiting the local developers should the zoning change -- which requires a two thirds Town Meeting vote -- passes.

The zoning article petitioner, Jerry Guidera, confirmed he will trim back that particular article to only include the properties south of Hallock Street, but will continue to move forward with the Triangle Street rezoning in spite of the unanimous vote against it by the Planning Board.

And considering how Town Meeting often does just the opposite of Planning Board recommendations, that may not be such a bad thing.


Anonymous said...

The zoning badly needs updating. Many of the existing properties could not have been built under the current zoning. They were grandfathered in.

Anonymous said...

These changes seem very reasonable to accomodate our growing population and commerce.

Anonymous said...

I expect we will see that whole area around Bertucci's go multi story - shortly !!

Anonymous said...

More sky-scrapers in Amherst. Look at this trend, starting with Clark House. If we had never built Clark House, this whole high-rise skyscraper housing would never have started. People can't live in buildings like that. Clark House is like a beehive, too many people. What we need is more single-family dwellings, like English cottages, where everyone has their own yard. Skyscrapers like Clark House are just too dense, we need more single-story garden cottages where people can live. There is lots of land, like in Shutesbury and Wendell. What do people have to live downtown, why can't they live in Wendell and Shutesbury. Look at Clark House, it's a skyscraper, totally out of place in our town. Say no to skyscrapers like Clark House! And Ann Whalen House. Too tall!

Anonymous said...

The zoning west of Kendrick park, B-VC around the RR station needs tweaking but not wholesale change of the district. Lot coverage etc. can be changed without changing the zoning. Now that the RR has gone to Northampton the zoning around it makes no sense at all. Maybe should all be BN, neighborhood business rather than b-vc which allows little to no housing unless the area around the station gets high-rise apartments.. HBG

Anonymous said...

I think the Planning Board has to drop the work planning from it's name. Just call it the Board.

Anonymous said...

Let's take the Number 1 college town in America and turn it into something it's not: 5 story brick buildings, one after another, all the way to UMass. Or apply footnote a of the zoning bylaw, which has no height limit, and reach for the skies-6, 7, 10 stories.

Anonymous said...

People should know how poorly thought out the Planning Board's vote was last week. This was the first time they were looking at these zoning articles which Jerry Guidera had filed on September 23rd. The Zoning Subcommittee discussed them for the first time a few hours earlier. None of the property owners that would financially benefit from the rezoning were at the hearings. The Planning Board was told what they thought by Guidera. He did not reach out to any abutters or neighbors. No abutters or neighbors that would be greatly affected were notified. Residents on the Planning Board's notifications email list were not notified. There was little or no information present on the impacts on parking, buildout, financial impacts (positive & negative), demand for town services, noise, propery values, the on people living right next to a 5 story building--anything that normally goes into a normal planning decisions. What is the impact of getting rid of the buffer that Limted Business (BL) zoning creates between high density General Business development and General Residence (RG)? Why get rid of that buffer? Why keep it? What does it mean for Limited Business zoning in other parts of Town? How will it affect the look or downtown or other downtown businesses that may lose foot traffic?

The Planning Board members and Zoning Subcommittee members themselves discussed how little they knew. Then the Planning Board went on to vote in support of 1 1/2 of the 3 articles. Now the Select Board is going to discuss these articles tonight, the Town Meeting Warrant Review meeting is tomorrow -- with no Town Meeting members even having a paper copy of the Warrant Articles. Nor while Town Meeting members have a paper copy of the Warrant in time for the Zoning Articles Review meeting.

What is going on here????

How can the Select Board or anyone else make a decision without needed information or anything more than the thoughts of Jerry Guidera and the Planning Board after an hour of discussion? And people complain that Town Meeting makes decisions without enough information, expertise and reflection. Then complain that Town Meeting is holding up the process by actually asking questions and seeking information.