Dec. 9, 2001
Daniel Yacuzzo, Chairman,
Northampton Planning Board
We, along with
others from our immediate neighborhood, attended board hearings
last summer on a proposal to construct a duplex at the southeast
corner of Greeley Avenue and North Main Street.
Among the concerns
expressed were that rain and snow runoff would create drainage
problems because of the contours of the lot, which is well below
the Route 9 roadway.
Some of us expressed
serious concern about the lack of parking on what is essentially
a narrow 100-yard cul-de-sac, and the impact of two additional
housing units on a street that is barely long enough to accommodate
the three existing homes.
We were not persuaded
that adequate attention was given to the parking and traffic problems
that could result from the introduction of this new structure.
We even introduced photos to illustrate the narrowness of the
right of way and the lack of existing on-street parking spaces.
some of us were concerned about the scale of the structure in
relationship to the size of the lot, even though it appeared to
meet certain sideyard and frontage requirements.
There was some
testimony by planning board members that the structure would cover
some 55 percent of the lot, although it was not clear if that
figure included the existing two-bay garage which will remain,
but be moved to the rear of the property in order to meet setback
The entire hearing
process was conducted on the basis of plans tacked to a blackboard
and explained by the developer. It is fair to say that probably
some members of the board - at least those who were present -
didnít even know where Greeley Avenue was, or what the lot looked
like, other than through the representations filed with the planning
board or on display in the Council chamber on the occasion of
the two hearings.
There was no
testimony by staff members that indicated they had viewed the
property in question and been assured that what was proposed was
consistent with the regulations and good planning.
was no evidence of a visitation by members of the planning board
to the site to try to understand what was proposed in relationship
to the actual site, the neighboring properties and the existing
roadway, traffic and parking issues that were raised by some of
Making a decision
that will have lasting consequences for other residents should
oblige the board members - all of them - to make a on-site visit
to assure themselves they understand fully what was being proposed
and why some people might be opposed to the proposal.
Now that the
duplex - which is planning jargon for two structures - is taking
shape and its scale is fully evident, we who live nearby are appalled,
and angry that our concerns were heard and dismissed with so little
understanding by the board.
As is often the
case when the board wants to pretend that it is concerned by abutters
fears, it approved the duplex with the condition that the developer
plant a screen of shrubs around the building. Big deal. It is
going to take at least 40 or 50 years for those shrubs to grow
tall enough to mask the towering scale of the duplex.
What has been
approved is the construction of two large homes on a building
lot only adequate for a single-family home, if that. The scale
of this project is totally inappropriate in terms of the size
of the lot or the length of the street on which it is situated.
It is doubtful there is any similar new structure of this scale
built on a single lot anywhere else in Northampton.
And as the size
and shape of the structure become more apparent, the deleterious
consequences for those of us who had questions about its propriety
in the first place will become all too evident.
To meet the parking
requirement for the duplex, the board accepted the illogical notion
that the mandated four parking spaces are met by two cars always
being parked in the garage and two more in the very short driveway.
Thus, no cars will ever be parked on-street. Thatís is nonsensical
and the planning board knew as much when it gave its approval
to go forward.
it appears there are no developments that perplex or worry the
planning board; the burden is always on neighborhoods and interested
citizens to raise issues, never the board. One thinks of the Beaver
Brook proposal in Leeds, the ill-conceived gas station at the
Stop and Shop property off King Street, the Carlon Drive development,
the Bridge Road housing project, the most recent housing development
off Route 66, and, of course, the huge development eyed for the
State Hospital property.
planning board and, by implication, its paid professional staff
totally embrace all development as good and as ones that should
go forward, once the various hearings have worn down and silenced
the pesky critics.
We invite you
to visit what has variously been called an "abortion"
and a "disaster" by people of our acquaintance (who
do not live in the neighborhood) who have some familiarity with
planning and its goals for maintaining a livable and harmonious
Come to North
Main and Greeley Avenue and see what this work in progress you
have unleashed looks like, feels like, and be humbled, even humiliated,
that you had any constructive part to play in this blight. Shame
on you and the people in your employ for copping out, for not
doing your job.
Ann E. Shanahan
9 Greeley Avenue
Florence, MA 01062