Timeline on rise, fall of Northampton Business Improvement District



Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

September 2007 — Proponents of creating a Business Improvement District in Northampton begin a campaign that over the next 16 months sent 11 mailings to property owners seeking support.

2008 — Initial boundaries for the BID were revised to remove 27 properties whose owners were opposed to the BID and to add properties owned by Smith College.

Dec. 10, 2008 — Downtown business owners file petition calling for a BID with the city clerk.

Jan. 15, 2009 — Northampton City Council starts public hearing on the BID petition.

March 5, 2009 — City Council votes to accept the BID petition and enter into a memorandum of understanding on BID operations.

April 13, 2009 — Alan Scheinman and other downtown property owners sue the city of Northampton and the BID in Hampshire Superior Court alleging errors in the petition process.

July 2009 — BID is officially established, with Daniel Yacuzzo, a downtown businessman who ran the Eastside Grill for 23 years before selling it in 2008, as executive director. For three years, he led the committee that pushed for the BID’s creation.

October 2011 — Amherst creates its own BID.

August 2012 — Changes in state law bar property owners from opting out of BID membership.

March 1, 2013 — A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield challenges the 2012 amendment to state law on constitutional grounds, arguing that it forces property owners to join the BID and pay fees. The plaintiffs are Scheinman, Eric Suher and W. Michael Ryan.

November 2013 — Plaintiffs in federal lawsuit update their complaint, adding among other things the fact that the BID was involved in a controversial — and temporary —removal of benches from downtown.

January 2014 — BID board names Natasha Yakovlev, replacing Yacuzzo.

March 20, 2014 — The City Council approves a petition to cut BID fees in half for most property owners, despite requests from the group’s most vocal critics to table a vote until pending lawsuits against the city are settled.

July 9, 2014 — A 40-0 vote of eligible BID voters extends the term of the BID through 2019. The 60 percent of BID members who opted out in 2009, but were ordered in by the 2012 law change, were not allowed to cast ballots.

Aug. 25. 2014 — A week-long civil trial examines the 2009 challenge filed by BID opponents, with Judge John A. Agostino presiding.

October 2014 —More plaintiffs seek to join the 2013 federal lawsuit against the BID — 46 more.

Oct. 17, 2014 — Dan Yacuzzo, the BID’s founding executive director and guiding light, dies of pancreatic cancer.

Nov. 12, 2014 — Judge John A. Agostino, an associate justice with the Hampshire Superior Court, finds that the BID was “never validly formed” because the city failed to properly check signatures and reject illegible ones. He ordered that “any and all operations undertaken by the Northampton Business Improvement District shall immediately and permanently cease.”

— LARRY PARNASS


 


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