Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zoning. Lots of Zoning.

Tomorrow night Amherst Town Meeting takes up Article 17, which rezones a couple of "Village Centers" to encourage more mixed-use, walkable, environmentally-friendly development.

The Sustainable Amherst website has a great summary of the reasons it is a good idea.

There are a couple of different things going on in the Article-- first is the proposal to change the zoning. That will bring out the NIMBYs who are afraid of change (which, as I've said before, is completely rational). I hope they can overcome their fear and think about all the nice things that might get built. I really enjoy being able to walk to coffee shops and restaurants and Captain Candy and the Farmer's Market, and I would think people living in North Amherst would enjoy more places to hang out and shop, too.

The second thing going on in Article 17 I'm not so enthusiastic about-- "Form-based zoning." The idea is to write zoning rules to encourage the creation of neighborhoods that 'feel' a desired way.

I'm not enthusiastic just because I would rather take a 'creative destruction' approach-- I believe that if you make it easier to redevelop, then neighborhoods will evolve over time towards whatever their residents most desire. I worry that adding Even More Pages to our Zoning Bylaw will just make redevelopment more difficult and expensive, and will give Nimby neighbors more opportunities to nit-pick a project to death.

But maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe Form-Based Zoning is a really good idea and will speed the process of redevelopment along, so you get fewer strip malls along the way towards tomorrow's quaint, historic village centers that everybody adores. I'm willing to give it a try, and plan on voting for Article 17 tomorrow night.

No comments: