Letter: Praise for Planning Department’s Proposed Progressive And Substantive Changes to Zoning Bylaw
Last night, Chris Brestrup and Nate Malloy, of the Amherst Planning Department (PD) made two presentations to the Planning Board (PB):
Presentation of proposed zoning amendments for Mixed Use Buildings (MUB) and proposed zoning amendments to the Inclusionary Zoning bylaw. (Mixed use buildings presentation is on pages 2-12 and 16-17 and Inclusionary zoning presentation is on pages 13-15 and 18-21).
Both presentations were substantive and progressive. The PD is proposing changes in setbacks, shapes of buildings, the look of the frontage, the size of sidewalks; and for Inclusionary zoning (IZ), changes that would make the law have positive results, and as John Hornik commented….change what is basically exclusionary zoning to inclusionary zoning. Nate Malloy even alluded to the problems created by a misinterpretation of the original IZ bylaw, the first such admission of this fact to come out of Town Hall in my memory.
The discussions after each were also excellent. Members of the public had ample opportunity to weigh in and several, including myself did so.
These proposed changes offer Amherst the opportunity to move forward with downtown development in a sensible way and offer Amherst the opportunity to make nearly every 10+ unit building include affordable units. Let us show our support for these changes as the discussions continue toward new bylaws.
One of the points I made was that since these proposed changes are so vital to our goals, a permitting moratorium is vital until those proposals become law. Otherwise, under the current bylaws, a lot more damage can be done to downtown and a lot of affordable units will not be created.
Gerry Weiss is President of the Board of Directors of Craig’s Doors Shelter and a former member of the Amherst Selectboard.