Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amherst Village Center Rezoning: A Conversation

As the final day of Annual Town Meeting approaches, there are still plenty of questions about the proposed rezoning of the North Amherst Village Center and the emerging Village Center at Atkins Corner in South Amherst.

Those questions concern both the general proposed uses and the new overlay of "form-based codes," which are an established planning and smart-growth tool but not one that is yet familiar to the general public.

Last week, Amherst Media invited several of us involved in the process to engage in a brief conversation about the process, for the benefit of Town Meeting members and other residents.

The task was, briefly, to explain at once the general logic behind rezoning of village centers, the specifics of the proposed uses for these two areas, and the nature of the new "form-based codes," which take the place of traditional dimensional regulation.

Taking part were:
• Rob Crowner, member of the Planning Board, who will make the motion at Town Meeting. (Rob is a past Chair of the Public Works Committee and member of the Comprehensive Planning Committee.)

• Laura Fitch: architect and North Amherst resident (Pulpit Hill Co-Housing). In her professional capacity, Laura is employed by fellow North Amherst resident Barbara Puffer-Garnier to design plans for one of the proposed new developments in the village center.

• Me: I, too, am a North Amherst resident, as well as a member of the Select Board (I will be presenting our official position on the article at Town Meeting). As the former Chair of both the Comprehensive Planning Committee and the Historical Commission, I am also very much engaged with issues of sustainability and how they relate to historic and neighborhood character.

• Sarah LaCour: a professional planner and historic preservationist, currently employed in North Amherst as Director of Conservation and Planning, W. D. Cowls, Inc. Land Company. W. D. Cowls is among the property-owners proposing new development in the district.
 Further coverage: meetings and interviews relevant to the zoning article, from Amherst Media (ACTV).


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