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Northampton council postpones votes on controversial zoning, gift account measures

The City Council once again delayed action on a pair of controversial measures at its meeting last week, one involving whether to rezone a Bridge Road parcel owned by the Lathrop Community and the other allowing the Planning Department to spend money from a tourism gift account.

Both items have been on the council agenda since December, but councilors are waiting to hear opinions from other committees and boards before they render decisions.

Lathrop would like the city to change the zoning at 716 Bridge Road from rural residential to urban residential B so that it has more flexibility to develop the land.

Lathrop operates a senior living complex adjacent to 716 Bridge Road. Neighbors oppose the zone change, saying that development will add to flooding problems in the area.

Edward Etheredge, a Northampton attorney representing Lathrop, reminded the council that developers must control off-site stormwater. He also said that projects can’t win site approval from the Planning Board if they are deemed to have an adverse impact on neighboring properties.

“Those two things will be addressed if the engineering and design studies suggest that a development could possibly be put there,” Etheredge said.

Steve Susco of 754 Bridge Road reiterated earlier comments that such a change would hurt his home and other homes in the area. He said it would result in increased storm drainage into an already overloaded storm drainage system.

The council delayed its vote last week, with members saying they wanted to hear recommendations from the Economic Development, Housing and Land Use Committee. Because the time limit is set to expire on the measure, the request was referred back to the Planning Board, which initially approved the project.

The council also delayed a second vote on the gift account changes, instead opting to send the proposal to the Arts Council for further discussion.

If approved, the Office of Planning and Development would be able to spend money from the account for gateway and other signs, pavement markings, plantings and outdoor furniture. It would also be able to accept gifts of personal property.

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