Greenfield City Council to take up zoning amendments Wednesday

Staff Writer
Published: 12/15/2019 10:02:41 PM

GREENFIELD — The City Council will take up zoning amendments that would allow for more mixed use at its Wednesday meeting.

After a positive recommendation from the Planning Board and the Economic Development Committee, it’s up to the council to decide whether to adopt the proposed amendments. The meeting will start at the John Zon Community Center at 7 p.m.

According to Greenfield Director of Planning and Development Eric Twarog, the changes are updates to “an already progressive set of zoning ordinances.”

The process began in 2016, when a working group was established to look at the use tables to “modernize and continue to promote sustainable development,” he said.

“One of the things the Use Regulation Working Group found was that we have pretty progressive zoning,” Twarog said. “It’s a good thing. But we found a few pieces that were not considered. There are different ways of doing use regulations, depending on the municipality.”

As laid out in the city’s master plan from 2014, modernizing the use table to allow for more mixed use is one element of sustainable development principles, Twarog said. He believes the city is in the middle between having a long list of use regulations or a short list of use regulations.

“The amended table of uses and proposed definitions are for ‘craft workshop and light assembly with retail component,’ ‘light industry and manufacturing,’ ‘makerspace’ and ‘automated vending kiosk,’” Twarog stated. Other amendments involve the definition of “retail establishment” and the purpose statement for the limited commercial district.

No changes were recommended for residential districts at this time, which includes the rural residential, suburban residential, urban residential and semi-residential zoning districts.

During the joint public hearing between the Planning Board and Economic Development Committee, one resident submitted comments: sprawlbuster Al Norman.

Norman stated he is against having “automated vending kiosks” in the limited commercial and general commercial zones, as well as allowing the “sale, leasing, repair and servicing of new and used motor vehicles with a Class 1 motor vehicles license” by special permit within both the limited commercial and general commercial districts.

“A visitor entering Greenfield from the (Interstate) 91 rotary heading east will pass two car dealerships before finding our historic downtown, with dozens of vehicles for sale along both sides of the road,” Norman wrote in his submitted comments. “Similarly, a visitor heading from the northern end of Federal Street south will see dozens of cars for sale along the road. We do not need to devote more space to this use, even by special permit, in the LC and GC districts. Encouraging an ‘extended parking lot’ appearance detracts from our historic downtown.”

Norman also disagreed with the craft workshop and light assembly with retail component uses, mixed residential/business uses, retail establishment uses and others, stating they are not appropriate for the proposed zones.

“All of the uses boldfaced above are either retail or residential uses, and will encroach upon the limited availability of industrially-zoned land,” Norman wrote. “They are therefore inappropriate in a general industrial zone. All of these uses can exist in commercial or residential zones as appropriate, but they diffuse our development goal of attracting industrial or tech uses in the partial industrial and general industrial zones, and should not be allowed by right or special permit. We already have a well-defined bus and train terminal; we do not need to find more space for such a use.”

For the zoning amendments to be passed, nine city councilors must vote in favor of the changes.

“It’s been a long effort, but a worthy effort to do,” Twarog said of determining the proposed zoning amendments. “You want to try to prepare and clarify for the future.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.


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