Jackie Balance: Against zero lot line development changes

Published: 5/18/2021 11:51:44 AM

The Northampton City Council will vote on May 20 to revise the zoning code for zero lot line developments.

As explained by the city’s planning department, zero lot line developments were created more than 20 years ago to describe densely clustered single-family housing developments, allowed only when at least 3 acres of abutting open land was preserved. The cluster development itself always had to meet the requirements of a special permit. There have been two public hearings already, and important questions remain unanswered.

Why amend the zero lot line developments ordinance at all? Why relocate this ordinance in the code? Why now? Who might benefit? Could zero lot line developments by Nu-Way Homes be affected by this ordinance revision? Has anyone besides Nu-Way Homes even built a zero lot line development in Northampton in the past year?

In order to keep the original intent of the ordinance — to manage extremely dense development with a balance of open space, to avoid even the remote possibility of unintentionally providing favors for a developer, and to simply to keep legislation intelligible — the City Council must vote no on the zero lot line development revisions, and amend the original ordinance with words “zero lot line developments require a special permit.”

Compare the elegant simplicity of the current ordinance with the complexity and confusion of the revision side-by-side at savebaystatevillage.org, and see for yourself whether you agree that these questions need to be answered before council changes the law as proposed.

Jackie Balance


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Northampton, MA 01061


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