Joint Meeting Of Town Council And Community Resources Committee Slated To Discuss Zoning Priorities

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A joint meeting of the Town Council and the Community Resources Committee of the Town Council has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. to discuss the Town’s Zoning Bylaw priorities.  The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom webcast and can be joined by using the following URL or phone number: https://amherstma.zoom.us/j/94559761874; join by phone by calling (301) 715-8592; enter webinar ID 945 5976 1874

The preliminary agenda is listed as follows:

Call to Order For Joint Meeting
Presentation and Discussion Items: 
Zoning Bylaw Priorities: 

  • Planning Department Presentation 
  • Planning Board Presentation
  • Council Discussion
  • Public Comment
  • Items Not Anticipated by the Chair 48 Hours in Advance
  • Adjourn – Town Council 

Call To Order For CRC Meeting
General Public Comment. 
Community Resources Committee Action Items: 
Fall 2020 Meeting Times – Vote on Revised Schedule. 
Minutes: Adoption Announcements. 
Next Agenda Preview. 
Adjourn – Community Resources Committee

Supporting memos are:
Memo listing zoning priorities of non-CRC Council members

Zoning amendment priorities of the planning board

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4 thoughts on “Joint Meeting Of Town Council And Community Resources Committee Slated To Discuss Zoning Priorities

  1. Thanks for publishing the Memo listing zoning priorities of non-CRC Council members.
    It is a very interesting document with many thoughtful and excellent suggestions. However, it leads me to several observations and questions:

    1. How was it compiled? The hands of many different writers are clearly evident for it is clearly both redundant and contradictory. For just one example, it is suggested several times that the Design Review Board’s powers be expanded, that its judgements be not simply advisory but mandatory, and that its purview be extended to village centers. However it is also suggested, early in the document, that the Design Review Board be abolished. I can’t help but wonder whose hand was heaviest in the editing, perhaps hoping that many would read no further than the first few items.

    2. Many suggestions that show up frequently in different forms are issues that the Planning Board’ and its Zoning Subcommittee have been working on for several years. In fact, the Board had several potential Zoning Bylaw amendments addressing these issues ready to go. However, in the past year or so, the Board was repeatedly told by its leadership that Town Council was “not yet ready” to consider zoning amendments. This stone wall had the effect of neutering the Zoning Subcommittee and slow-walking zoning bylaw improvement – particularly in the areas of expanding inclusionary zoning, developing sensible parking requirements and expanding opportunities for creating more modest scale affordable housing in all residential zones.

    3. For such a huge and comprehensive list to be effective, it must be prioritized. Who is to do that? The CRC has announced their desire to take over that responsibility. But the CRC is swamped with process issues and has not demonstrated the ability to deal with Zoning in a meaningful way.. This is precisely why the Planning Board must remain the principal source of Zoning Bylaw amendments. It is best positioned, through its Zoning Subcommittee, to provide continuing focus on prioritizing this list, for the Council’s review, and to develop useful amendments to address them.

    4. I assume the suggestions in the document were authored by the eight Councilors who are not members of the CRC. But it was a mistake of major significance that the suggestions were not attributed to individual authors. Who made that decision and why? Soon we’ll have to choose a new town council. One would presume that many of the present 13 councilors will stand for re-election. In order to cast informed votes, we need to know where candidates stand on these issues. These are among the more critical, long-term concerns that face the town. Before we vote to re-elect a Councilor, we need to know exactly where or she stands on the particular issues we care about.

    So – follow these events and prepare to re-elect our champions while we throw the rascals out!

  2. Michael. Thanks for these insights. The Indy has invited each of the Councilors to submit their individually authored memos on zoning priorities for posting in The Indy. We sent out the invitation this AM (SAT) and have so far received one response. We’ll try to get what we receive up by tomorrow night (SUN) and will continue to post new submissions as they come in.

  3. I started a conversation with the Amherst community, about what you’d like to see more of and less of in town.
    It’s happening on both nextdoor.com and amherstindy.com
    (many more comments on nextdoor, ok to post to either or both)
    Hopefully, town councilors are seeing these. I know some are, because the agenda for Tuesday’s zoom meeting of the town council sure seems to be influenced by what we’re all contributing.
    That’s a good thing, as our government needs to represent us, and serve us; and live up to its claim “transparency to the max.”
    https://www.amherstindy.org/2020/09/11/letter-things-i-want-more-of-in-amherst-an-informal-referendum/#comment-1912
    and here: https://nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=160965042

  4. I love living in a college town, and do many projects with college students, almost always for no pay. My objection to houses being overcrowded with students is not about college age humans, it’s about when there are loud parties, inconsiderate of neighbors. I felt that way when I was a college student, too! And it’s about the landlords, who are entitled to a fair profit, but not unfair profiteering. It’s about that 4-10 college students crammed in a house is blocking young families from being able to afford to live here. I’m also not against builders or developers. For the last 26 years I’ve been advising many small and medium sized companies in our region, many of them builders and developers. I love builders and developers, if they build substantial, needed projects. I do not love the get-rich-quick developers of too-big private dorms in town, where more life-size mixed use projects could go, combining housing for families. Dorms belong on campuses. Not in town. You can say those buildings are not built for a certain use, but they are built as dorms, and they are dorms. Build dorms on campuses. The main reason a 30-something family can’t afford houses in Amherst is that they can’t outbid 4 families, supporting their college students, allowing a landlord to price their houses exorbitantly; and student landlords to outbid families, purchasing houses where they can get that exorbitant return on investment.

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