Today’s Gazette features this letter from ZM members Kathleen Daly and Julie Kurose:
To the editor:
We are a group of concerned neighbors residing in Wards 3 and 4 of Northampton who have formed an ad hoc committee to build awareness on a zoning issue mentioned in the Gazette this past spring (“As moratorium nears end, Northampton eyes new residential zoning for larger projects,” April 10).
The moratorium refers to a hold on issuing building permits for larger residential projects while the Planning Board fine-tunes the language of the regulations to impose greater design and layout standards on any development calling for the construction of seven or more units.
Central to our group’s concerns is how this new zoning language will affect the eventual development of the Fort Hill/Lyman Estate, roughly 15 buildable acres in the center of town now owned by Smith College. Separate public meetings have taken place to discuss both the zoning language and the Lyman development, yet these two issues are inextricably linked. We feel that the consequences of large-scale development have not been thoroughly addressed in the language of the new regulations. Some examples of these include new access roads, increased traffic in our neighborhood of narrow streets and stress to utilities (water, sewer, stormwater).
The Ordinance Committee is scheduled to finalize and advance its decisions to the City Council Sept. 22. While we applaud the significant effort that has gone into crafting the principal guidelines for Smart Growth, we urge the committee to extend the moratorium to the end of the year to continue work on the new ordinances, while we continue to explore successful models from other cities.
City councilors Ryan O’Donnell (Ward 3) and Gina-Louise Sciarra (Ward 4) will sponsor a public forum on rules governing large building projects on Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hearing Room on the second floor of City Hall.
We appreciate their work and their efforts to generate greater public awareness of the issues involved. As the decisions regarding the new zoning regulations will affect development in all neighborhoods going forward, we urge the Gazette to continue its coverage of these proceedings.
This letter was also signed by five other residents of Wards 3 and 4 in Northampton.