Zoning Subcommittee

Overview


The Zoning Subcommittee is a subcommittee of the Amherst Planning Board and is responsible for drafting and reviewing proposed changes to the Town's Zoning Bylaw. The Zoning Subcommittee typically meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Town Room, Town Hall.

Members

Member Year Appointed Term Expiration
Rob Crowner (chair) 2009 2015
Bruce Carson 2008 2014
Connie Kruger 2011 2016
Greg Stutsman 2013 2016
2014 Annual Town Meeting - Zoning Amendments

Atkins Corner Rezoning (Planning Board) - The Planning Board is proposing to rezone the three properties in the 40+ year old Limited Business (B-L) ‘core’ of this village center to Village Center Business (B-VC). These include the Atkins Farm Market property and two Hampshire College properties to the west and south which face onto the new loop road. Also being rezoned to B-VC are two small properties created by the relocation of roadways during the intersection project-the east end of the Atkins Farm Market parking lot, and a sliver of former Bay Road right of way south of the Ives house, as well as adjacent portions of the public way-all of it Town roads-including the intersection of Rambling Road and West Bay Road. The purpose of rezoning these areas is to ensure that when pedestrian and streetscape improvements occur in these areas, they are designed to function as part of a village center.

Other adjacent properties which are functionally and logically part of the village center remain under consideration for future rezoning, but only these core properties are being proposed for rezoning at this Town Meeting.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on this zoning amendment on Wednesday March 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Room, Town Hall.

See a description of the proposed rezoning here.

See a history of community planning for Atkins Corner here, and maps and text from past community planning efforts here.
Comments and questions welcomed. Please send them to Jonathan Tucker at tuckerj@amherstma.gov.
2012 Fall Special Town Meeting - Zoning Amendments at a Glance (posted September 10, 2012)
Click here to see a summary of the Zoning Amendments currently under review by the Planning Board and the Planning Board Zoning Subcommittee.

Zoning Forum
(posted June 12, 2012)
The Zoning Subcommittee of the Amherst Planning Board will hold a citizen Zoning Forum at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 in the Town Room, Amherst Town Hall. The Zoning Subcommittee is responsible for initial review and development of proposed changes to the Town's Zoning Bylaw.

The Planning Board is seeking public input to help identify and prioritize future changes to the Zoning Bylaw. All are invited to attend and participate. The forum will include an overview of the process to amend the Zoning Bylaw, discussion of current and ongoing rezoning projects, and Master Plan zoning priorities, and is being held to provide an opportunity for Amherst citizens to identify zoning issues that need to be addressed in the future.

To view the current draft FY13 zoning amendment work list, please click here.


(posted April 11, 2012)

ARTICLE 26 - Residential Parking Design Regulations (Planning Board)
Report to Town Meeting

ARTICLE 24 & 25 - Village Center Rezoning (Planning Board)
Report to Town Meeting

These articles represent an updated and significantly revised version of the village center rezoning proposal presented under Artilce 17 to the Fall 2011 Special Town Meeting. Numerous changes have been made, but the basic approach remains. The amendments have been separated into two articles, to allow Town Meeting to vote on proposed changes to Atkins Corners and North Amherst village separately.

Articles 24 and 25 propose to do three things:
  1. To add general new form-based design regulations to the Zoning Bylaw to govern the overall design of new growth and development in centers in Amherst.
  2. To add new form-based design regulations that tailor the general form-based design regulations to the specific character of individual village centers, beginning with Atkins Corners (Article 24) and North Amherst village center (Article 25).
  3. To rezone the official Zoning Map for Atkins Corners (Article 24) and North Amherst village center (Article 25). These zoning district changes would include:
    • A. Adding new mixed-use center districts (one for each center) that incorporate form-based design regulations.
    • B. Adding new overlay districts that apply form-based design regulations to existing or new residential or educational zoning districts.
    • C. Changing the boundaries of existing zoning districts in ways which enhance the village centers, improve protections for existing historic and environmental resources, and correct longstanding problems.
The new form-based design regulations created under Articles 24 and 25 will apply only to the new form-based zoning districts and to those existing districts where a new overlay district is being added.

To view the entire amendment in one document, click here (NOTE: this is a very large file and may take a few minutes to download)

To view each individual section, please click on the links below:
Note: the following are the proposed amendments to the existing Zoning Bylaw:
NOTE: the following are the proposed amendments to the Official Zoning Map:
Atkins Corners
North Amherst
Supplementary Information regarding the Village Center Rezoning
Zoning Amendment Work Plan
The Amherst Planning Board, through the work of its Zoning Subcommittee, reviews and proposes amendments to the Amherst Zoning Bylaw and Official Zoning Map. The Zoning Subcommittee maintains and regularly updates a work plan of potential zoning amendments organized by relative priority and immediacy. Following each Town Meeting, the Planning Board conducts a public Zoning Forum at which citizens are invited to propose new zoning amendments and comment on the priority of zoning amendments already under consideration.

Following each forum, the Zoning Subcommittee reviews the zoning amendment work plan in the light of citizen comments, and then develops recommendations for which zoning amendments to work on perparing for the next Town Meeting. Those recommendations are presented to the full Planning Board for its review, comment, and approval. The accompanying Zoning Amendment Work Plan summarizes all of the zoning amendments under active or long-term consideration, and identifies under Priority A those zoning amendments most likely to be on the warrant for the next Town Meeting.

To view the current Zoning Subcommittee work list, please click here.

Zoning Forum
(Posted December 15, 2011)
The Zoning Subcommittee of the Amherst Planning Board is holding a citizen Zoning Forum at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 in the Town Room, Amherst Town Hall. The Subcommittee is responsible for the initial review and development of proposed changes to the Town’s Zoning Bylaw.

The purpose of the Zoning Forum is to seek public input to help identify and prioritize future changes to the Zoning Bylaw. All are invited to attend and participate. The Forum will include an overview of the process to amend the Zoning Bylaw, discussion of current projects, and will be an opportunity for citizens to identify issues that need to be addressed in the future.

Article 17, Village Center Re-Zoning (Form Based Zoning) - Special Town Meeting, November 2011
(Posted December 15, 2011)
On November 16, the Fall Special Town Meeting narrrowly failed to adopt Article 17, Village Center Re-Zoning (Form Based Zoning). Although a strong majority (60%) of Town Meeting members voted in favor, the vote (119Y/79N) fell short of the 2/3's super-majority vote by 13 votes.

To view the Town Meeting Warrant, please go to the Town Meeting page, here. To view the entire Zoning Amendment, as proposed, go to the Fall 2011 Town Meeting link on the left hand side of this page, or click here.

View the most recent DRAFT of the Form-Based Zoning for North Amherst and Atkins Corners (Posted October 11, 2011)
The following are the draft documents dated October 6, 2011:
Note: the following are the changes to the existing Zoning Bylaw:
Note: the following are the proposed Form-Based Zoning requirements:
Village Center Rezoning - September 7th Public Information Session (Posted August 31, 2011)
On Wednesday, September 7, the Amherst Planning Board is sponsoring a public information session on proposed new form-based rezoning for North Amherst village and Atkins Corners. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend and participate. The session will held at 7 p.m. in the Town Room, Amherst Town Hall, with representatives of the consulting firm, The Cecil Group, presenting the preliminary draft rezoning proposals and explaining the purpose and function of form-based zoning. The proposed rezoning will be considered by the Fall 2011 Special Town Meeting beginning November 7th.

Copies of the draft zoning and associated maps, as well as information about form-based zoning, will be available on this webpage as soon as they are available.

The preliminary draft rezoning proposals are the result of a public participation process begun in the spring, which included well-attended public design workshops in North Amherst Village and Atkins Corners in May, and a public review of preliminary concepts in June.

Following further refinement in September, the Planning Board will consider final versions of these zoning amendments at public hearings in October, and develop recommendations for Town Meeting. Workshops and other public information sessions on form-based zoning will be held in September and October. Interested citizens should watch the Town website calendar for dates and further information.

Form-Based Zoning
(Posted August 10, 2011)
Form-based zoning, also referred to as form-based code, is a relatively new way to approach the regulation of land uses through zoning. Since 1925, Amherst has used a standard zoning approach that emphasizes the regulation of land uses (residential, office, retail, etc.) proposed for any given property. This approach pays only secondary attention to the resulting form (design) of the buildings and landscape, instead trying to control design through general dimensional regulations-height, setbacks, coverage, and so forth-and through the permit process on a case-by-case basis. This approach does not by itself provide good control over what development will end up looking like, and it makes it difficult for developers to determine what a community wants. Often, communities will impose overly stringent regulations on new development, including through the use of discretionary Special Permits, because existing standard zoning regulations by themselves provide such poor control over the form of development that occurs.

Form-based zoning regulations place a much stronger emphasis on the physical end result of a proposed development-the size and shape of buildings, how buildings are going to be laid out, where parking and landscaping will go, the range of architectural types used, etc. The uses which will occupy any existing or proposed building are still carefully regulated, but since the fundamental design outcome for any proposed development is controlled through the form-based zoning, that zoning significantly reduces the need to impose overly tight or discretionary controls on uses that would otherwise be normal and expected in a given area.

For a summary description of form based zoning, prepared by The Cecil Group, click here.

With the help of consultants and staff, Amherst’s Planning Board is developing form-based zoning for North Amherst Village and Atkins Corners for consideration by the Fall 2011 Special Town Meeting. See below for further information.

The Planning Board anticipates that form-based zoning proposals will also be forthcoming in 2012 for the Gateway Corridor between the north end of downtown Amherst and the UMass campus. As implementation of the Amherst Master Plan proceeds, rezoning for other village centers will follow.

Village Center Planning and Rezoning - News and Information
North Amherst & Atkins Corners (Posted August 1, 2011)

The Planning Board is currently working with a consultant firm (The Cecil Group) to create new village center plans and zoning for North Amherst Village and Atkins Corners. The timeline fo this process is described below:
  • Development of RFP for consultant - Completed February 2011
  • Selection of Consultant - Completed March 2011
  • Public Design Workshops - Conducted May 7 and May 14
  • Public Review of Preliminary Concept Plans - Conducted July 25 and 26
  • Public Review of Draft Village Center Plans & Proposed Form-Based Zoning - Late August/early September
  • Public Open House on Village Center Plans & Form-Based Zoning - Late September
  • Fall Town Meeting - Begins November 7
Leading up to Town Meeting in August, September, and October, this process will also involve meetings of the Planning Board's Zoning Subcommittee, presentations sponsored by the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee, a public hearing by the Planning Board, and many other opportunities for public comment and input, all of which will be publicly notices on this website, and most of which will be covered by Amherst Media.

Cecil Group - Draft Concept Plans - View the slideshows! (Posted July 27, 2011)
On July 25th, the Cecil Group presented for review and comment a slideshow of the draft concept plans for North Amherst.

To view the slideshow click here.
To view the "North Amherst Transect", as described on page 4 of the slideshow, click here.

On July 26th, the Cecil Group presented for review and comment a slideshow of the draft concept plans for Atkins Corner

To view the slideshow, click here.

(NOTE: These files are large and may take several minutes to download)

Cecil Group - Concept Plan Presentations for North Amherst and Atkins Corner (Posted July 19, 2011)

On Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26, preliminary concept plans will be presented for village center design and new form-based code zoning for North Amherst Village and Atkins Corners. The concept plans are the result of public design workshops held in the village centers on May 7 and 14.

The Cecil Group, the consulting firm working with the Amherst Planning Board on this project, will present the North Amherst village center concept on Monday, July 25 and the Atkins Corners village center concept on Tuesday, July 26. Presentations will be in the Pole Room, Bangs Community Center from 7-9 p.m. on both evenings.

To view the draft power point presentation, click here. (NOTE: This is a draft document. The final will be presented at the above mentioned meetings. Also, the file is large and may take several minutes to download)

Participation by the public and residents of the village centers is invited and encouraged, to provide direction and help guide further refinement of the plans. Form-based code zoning proposals based upon the village center design plans are intended to be presented to the Fall 2011 Special Town Meeting for consideration and adoption.

Written comments or concerns can also be submitted via email or letter to: Village Center Concepts, Conservation and Development, Town Hall, 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst, MA, 01002, planning@amherstma.gov.

Cecil Group "Summary of Results" from the North Amherst and Atkins Corners Public Design Workshops! (Posted July 19, 2011)

Click here to view the North Amherst Village Center Public Design Workshop - Summary of Results, from Saturday, May 7, 2011

Click here to view the Atkins Corner Village Center Public Design Workshop - Summary of Results, from Saturday, May 14, 2011

Atkins Corner Public Design Workshop (Posted May 19, 2011)

Saturday, May 14, 2011
at Hampshire College - Franklin-Patterson Hall, East Lecture Room, Amherst, MA 01002

Workshop Description and Purpose - The Town of Amherst has retained The Cecil Group to prepare village center design plans and form-based zoning amendments for the North Amherst and Atkins Corner village centers. To initiate the planning and public participation process, The Cecil Group is conducting a Public Design Workshop focusing on major topics within the context of the overall planning, design and regulatory objectives for the Atkins Corner area. The Design Workshop will be an interactive, visually-oriented charrette that introduces the public to the overall village planning process and engages them in design and development opportunities. The overall goal of the workshop is to define design and development scenarios that can be translated into appropriate conceptual plan and form-based zoning for the village center.

To view the agenda, click here.

North Amherst Public Design Workshop (Posted April 29, 2011)

Saturday, May 7, 2011
at the North Amherst Parish Hall, North Congregational Church, 1193 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01059

Workshop Description and Purpose - The Town of Amherst has retained The Cecil Group to prepare village center design plans and form-based zoning amendments for the North Amherst and Atkins Corner village centers. To initiate the planning and public participation process, The Cecil Group is conducting a Public Design Workshop focusing on major topics within the context of the overall planning, design and regulatory objectives for the North Amherst Village Center. The Design Workshop will be an interactive, visually-oriented charrette that introduces the public to the overall village planning process and engages them in design and development opportunities. The overall goal of the workshop is to define design and development scenarios that can be translated into appropriate conceptual plan and form-based zoning for the village center.

To view the agenda, click here.

North Amherst & Atkins Area Consultant Chosen! (Posted March 11, 2011)

The Cecil Group, from Boston, was chosen to lead the planning and rezoning process for both North Amherst and Atkins Village Centers.

To read the Gazette article from March 9, 2011, click here.

To view the Cecil Group website, click here.

Please continue to check here for more information.
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The following is information related to the more significant items under consideration by the Zoning Subcommittee:

Disclaimer - The following information is intended to help make this information more readily available to the public. However, the information on this webpage is being posted as a courtesy and will likely be updated frequently. This information is not a substitute for any materials that may be discussed during a public meeting.

North Amherst
The Zoning Subcommittee has begun discussing the potential rezoning of certain areas of North Amherst. The process will include the creation of a conceptual plan, followed by a community meeting and further review before it is presented to the full Planning Board and ultimately Town Meeting.

For additional information, plans and materials, please click here.
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Atkins Corner
Long-planned improvements to the adjacent intersections have begun, along with work on a new village center street layout. New zoning responding to the community plan needs to be developed.

For additional information, plans and materials, please click here.
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Gateway District
The Zoning Subcommittee has not yet discussed the re-zoning of this area, which consists of a corridor from the intersection of East Pleasant and Triangle Streets along the east and west side of North Pleasant Street to the entrance of the University of Massachusetts.

The potential rezoning of this area, called the Gateway District, is currently under review and discussion by the Amherst Redevelopment Authority. Eventually, a conceptual plan to rezone this area would come before the Zoning Subcommittee, the Planning Board and ultimately Town Meeting.

To go to the Amherst Redevelopment Authority webpage, click here.