Concerns about possible zoning changes

Published: 3/24/2020 9:38:28 AM

I have concerns about proposed “Smart Growth” zoning changes for Greenfield. They would apply a principle that was developed for urban areas to our established rural residential neighborhoods. Examples in Smart Growth literature feature large cities like New Orleans, Louisiana and Portland, Oregon, with examples of appropriate amendments for accessibility and infill of vacant lots or buildings.

Should we renovate properties in our underutilized downtown business district to create more owner-occupied housing? Absolutely. Should we relax current zoning in residential neighborhoods as proposed? No.

Why do people buy homes in Greenfield? Relative affordability and value. Currently, most home lots are reasonably sized with room for gardens and front lawns and side streets that are safe with good sight-lines. A home is typically a person’s largest life investment — so why would Greenfield change zoning that would decrease property values by congesting neighborhoods?

Unfortunately, as this proposal stands, it is an invitation to speculators and outside investors to come to town, build dense housing, strip the cash out, and move on.

The proposal claims ADU’s would be “easier to build and administer,” but our history says otherwise. During last year’s ADU discussions, the building inspector clearly stated there was not enough staff to enforce regulations, monitor ADUs with absentee landlords, increased traffic, noise, etc.  Our neighborhood experienced that lack of ability to monitor problems firsthand when a formerly beautiful home (duplex) needed to be demolished after six years of neglect. With animals and mold having moved in, it was a public health hazard.

Careful measures to improve housing options are honorable, but urban schemes applied to rural areas don’t always make a good fit. Challenges exist to accommodate myriad housing needs. I hope we can create attractive residential options in the downtown sector without negatively impacting established neighborhoods.

Sandy Thomas


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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