Forum planned March 1 on rezoning proposal for Atkins Corners

With the road reconstruction project that created roundabouts for vehicles and a multi-use path for walkers and bicyclists complete, town planners are contemplating rezoning 11.51 acres on three parcels at the intersection of West Street and West Bay Road. Two parcels are vacant and owned by Hampshire College, while the third houses Atkins Farms Country Market.

Officials will hold a community meeting March 1, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Atkins’ east parking lot with a walking tour. At 10 a.m., a two-hour forum on the proposal will be held at Franklin-Patterson Hall’s West Lecture Hall at Hampshire College.

Senior Planner Christine Brestrup said the basic change from limited business (BL) zoning to village center business (BVC) zoning will encourage future development that would be pedestrian friendly.

The rezoning to village center business also includes small sections of the town’s right of way along both West Street and West Bay Road, being changed from outlying residence, and a tiny portion at the intersection of West Bay Road and Rambling Road being changed from the outlying residence planned unit residential district overlay.

The area in question is significantly smaller than parcels previously considered for rezoning, such as in November 2011, when town officials attempted to use a technique known as form-based code that would have required new buildings to take on a certain appearance, put parking behind buildings and made sidewalks and landscaping consistent, while streamlining the process of obtaining permits.

“This is a much more focused rezoning just to accommodate the area right around Atkins Market,” Brestrup said.

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