Letter: Apartment sizes

An open letter to the Montague Planning Board:

In regard to the proposal to change the zoning bylaws concerning the minimum 700-square-foot size requirement of apartments in Montague, we would like you to consider the implications of this proposed change. Given the pending litigation concerning the ZBA’s variance and special permit granted in the case of the Montague Center School — which rests on this very issue, you timing of the proposal could not be any more questionable.

A change in the zoning bylaw should be driven by an actual need in the existing community, not the desire of a developer from outside the community who stands to benefit immediately. A change in the bylaw should only be considered following a series of public hearings (at least three or four to allow a opportunity for the community to participate) where the Planning Board and building inspector shows the actual need for the proposed change. To do any less is to invite public distrust and leave your motivations in question.

The actual population census figures from the state: (www.sec.state.ma.us/census/franklin.htm) show that population in Montague decreased from 2,000 to 2,010 (from 8,489 to 8,487). The population in Greenfield also decreased in this period as it did in a majority of the towns of Franklin County. To argue that there is a need for smaller houses than 700 square feet (20-by-35 feet) to accommodate the growing population is a bold statement, which needs something to back it up. Certainly the population figures do not.

Please reconsider the issue and all of its future implications.

KENNETH and OLGA HOLMBERG

Montague

P.S. We are not opposed to the reuse of the Montague Center School; we realize it must be dealt with in some way. What we would like to see is a new RFP for development which might benefit the town more than the current proposal by Olive Street Development.

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