Letter: Zoning Proposals in Williamstown 'Not Ready for Prim Time'

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To the Editor:

A recent letter urged Williamstown residents to vote on all 10 proposed zoning articles – some with many subsections –at the Tuesday, June 14, town meeting at the high school gym.

Is debating such a long list of complicated, highly technical articles at a town meeting really the best way to do zoning?
Is debating these articles now, with a new, complicated, confusing set of voting rules and percentages advisable – especially when town counsel issued one set of answers on the number of votes required to pass the former Planning Board’s recommendations and then later had to issue a revised set?

Wow. I don't think so.

Has the board done anything over the last year, during COVID-19, to truly inform our residents about these articles? Did it conduct surveys or community engagement meetings? No.

Do our residents truly understand how one article inter-relates to another? No, because it has never been explained, and I sure cannot figure it out. How do the drastic reductions in lot size, lot frontage, and side-, front- and rear dimensional requirements affect houses to be built next to you or in your neighborhood?

Are residents aware that none of these changes were seriously studied or researched?

Are residents aware of any community having four family houses allowed as of right, without community hearings to give residents a voice? I surely do not.

Are residents aware that there is no provision to provide for affordability and therefore no additional diversity in these articles?

What harm is there to have one more year of review and community outreach so we are all so much better informed and the Planning Board has time to research each proposal and to see how other towns have fared with similar zoning changes?

To be frank, most of these articles are simply not ready for prime time.

Sherwood Guernsey
Williamstown, Mass.



Tags: zoning,   

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Williamstown Planners Still Split on Upzoning Proposals

By Stephen Dravis
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – It took just two meetings of the newly constituted Planning Board for old fault lines to reemerge.
About two hours into its July meeting, the board took up the question of how to address the numerous zoning bylaw amendments that were "referred to committee" by June’s annual town meeting.
Several members of the five-person board indicated that some of the articles still merited consideration by the body and could return to town meeting in some form and with further explanation and analysis.
Roger Lawrence was not having it.
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