Council Hears Public Comment About Interim Zoning

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Thursday January 26, 2012

Councilor Greco addressed Cutler’s concerns stating that the interim zoning would not impact his business. Though he must reapply every year, it would be considered an ongoing business.

Resident John Barrows told the Council he is “not in favor of the proposal.”  He told the Council, “There’s a lot of confusion about the facts and disagreement on the facts on what’s being presented.”

Barrows also presented his concerns on a “lack of leadership from the Council, on presenting this in a clear way.”  He pointed to a “lack of trust in City Council, a lack of confidence” and called the proposed Interim Zoning Bylaw a “divisive issue.”

“It’s not creating unity,” he expressed to the City Council.   “It’s not the way to show leadership.”  He asked the Council to consider a referendum ballot. “It will give you time to see plainly what you want to do and how you want to do it and make it clear to the public,” he said.

Indeed, members of the public were not the only ones who expressed confusion or disagreement. Among the Council members themselves there is a wide range of opinion. While Dooley and Greco, who brought forward the proposal, are in support of it, Councilors Meghan Emery and Paul Engels expressed neutral feelings on the bill.  Councilor Emery described herself to the public as “of open mind,” however Councilor Jim Knapp expressed strong feelings of nonsupport.

“I don’t see a practical need for interim zoning,” Knapp said. “Let’s let the Planning Commission do it. Let’s let them do their job.  I have not heard from anyone that the city’s planning process is not functional.”

Knapp went on to say that “all of these goals can be addressed through the traditional process.” Knapp expressed concern over economic impacts of instituting IZ.  “We don’t need this interim zoning,”  he concluded to loud applause from members of the public.

At the end of the public hearing, Council Chair Sandy Dooley suggested the Council do “what we did last summer, to extend the public hearing. It gives us some time to digest what we’ve received, what we will receive, and what we’ve received tonight.”

The City Council will allow further written comment through 4:30 p.m. on  January 31st, and will hold a special meeting on Interim Zoning on February 2, 7:30 p.m.  at City Hall. Comments can be sent to or to 575 Dorset Street, SB.

SOURCE: Annalisa Parent, Correspondent