Richard Greene: Northampton zoning changes ill-advised
To the editor:
The Gazette’s May 11-12 report on proposed zoning changes, “More flexible zoning in Northampton to get public airing,” presents a one-sided picture. The article offers seven, in some cases lengthy, paragraphs presenting the official justification for the proposed changes and repeatedly quoting a city planning official by name.
It devotes only two short sentences to resident concerns and those not to resident views of the current official arguments, but to an opinion expressed by residents in public meetings months ago.
Though the city’s defense of of the proposed regulations is debatable in almost every respect, in the interest of keeping this letter brief, I won’t attempt a thorough exposition of the many questions your article should have raised. I’ll offer two comments.
The proposed new zoning regulations would make wholesale, mandatory changes. This is unnecessary and unjustified and opens the door to exploitation by developers to the detriment of the city and its current residents.
What should be offered is discretionary changes that would make it possible to discriminate between cases where needs of residents justify adding residential units and cases where the additions aren’t justified by resident needs, either because the residents concerned have no such needs or because the additional units will be for the benefit not of the residents but of developers.
If the city cares about public interest and opinion, these sweeping zoning changes should not be imposed as a matter of central planning but should be submitted to a public referendum.