Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'll miss Zone-A-Palooza 2009

Fall Town Meeting starts up in a couple of weeks, and I'll be unable to attend. I couldn't resist looking through the warrant, though.

There's a lot of stuff in there; 23 pages of mostly zoning changes. Lots of reasonable changes to Amherst's crazy zoning laws (including things that seem obvious to me, like saying that the surface area of a sign doesn't include the sticks you use to hold up the sign or that an office shared by two doctors is NOT the same as a "medical center").

I'm kinda bothered that the crazy zoning laws will get a little bit crazier; half of the warrant (12 pages) describes a brand-new zoning district ("Business-Neighborhood"). Do we really need another zoning district? We've got 15 already, including five different business districts. Maybe it's not completely crazy; Northampton's got 15 zoning districts, too; if the B-N zone passes, Amherst will be one better!

If I were at the TM vote on this, I'd probably abstain. I don't have any evidence that adding yet another zoning district would do any harm; maybe giving planners (and Town Meeting) lots of zoning options so they can pick exactly the right set of regulations for any given piece of land makes the Town a better place.

But I doubt it. I think making the zoning laws more complicated will just make lawyers richer and will decrease the number of people who understand what is allowed where. And will make Town Meeting even more annoying, as we all wonder "what's the difference between the B-N and B-VC districts?" for the seventeenth time.


Anonymous said...

So you're occupying a Town Meeting seat and you are not attending any of the fall sessions.

So you do more than your share of self-reflection: any thoughts on the ethics of this?

No offense to you personally, but I think that a resignation was in order.

Rich Morse

Gavin Andresen said...

No offense taken, and I debated whether or not to resign before I left.

In the end, I used these rationalizations to justify my laziness:

-- I wasn't certain that I'd miss all of the meeting-- the Fall tm dates hadn't been set when I left. I hope for your sake it doesn't drag on to the last scheduled date-- Dec 10-- but if it does, I'll be back by then.

-- I had a 100% tm attendance record before I left, so I didn't feel terribly bad about missing several sessions in a row.

Anonymous said...

OK, as long as you thought about it.

As you may have figured out, although I find some of your thinking maddening at times, I would vote for you for Town Meeting if you ran in my precinct.

Rich Morse