Lathrop Community neighbors object to rezoning proposal
NORTHAMPTON — A proposal from Lathrop Community Inc. to rezone a parcel of land it bought next to its Bridge Street facility last summer is being met with opposition from neighboring homeowners who worry future development will add to flooding problems in the area.
David Cotton, who lives at 736 Bridge Road next to Lathrop, urged the City Council Thursday to think hard about granting the zone change before making infrastructure improvements. The neighborhood has seen an increase in damage in over the years caused by drainage problems, so much so that erosion has undermined the road and exposed gas lines in the area, Cotton said.
A future expansion of Lathrop would add to the problem, he said.
“I think any development should be looked at pretty carefully and I don’t think that it’s a good idea to change the zoning at this particular point in time until those infrastructure problems are addressed,” Cotton said.
The City Council postponed a vote on the request to change the zoning at 716 Bridge Road from rural residential to urban residential B until Jan. 3. The council asked the Economic Development, Housing and Land Use Committee and the Board of Public Works/City Council Conference Committee to take up the issue this month.
The zone change would allow for future expansion of Lathrop’s Northampton community, though no immediate plans are in the works for such an expansion, said Paul Phillips, Lathrop’s executive director.
“We do have a desire to expand our services and explore a responsible and meaningful way to do that,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the current zoning is not dense enough for Lathrop to expand, and the company needs to know what its options are before moving ahead.
“We have no immediate develop plans but in order for us to get started with a preliminary analysis of the site ... it is necessary for us to know if there is a path forward,” he said.
Phillips said the company would like to work with neighbors and the city to address infrastructure issues.
Steve Susco, who lives at 754 Bridge Road, said he and other neighbors are negatively impacted by existing conditions. Adding development to the area would only exacerbate the problems. He urged the council to reject the zone change.
“This proposed rezoning will foster intensive development of this large parcel, resulting in greatly increased storm drainage into an already seriously overloaded storm drainage system, also known as and including my back yard,” Susco said.