Zoning Proposals

Councilor Wheeler and I recently introduced a slate of zoning changes that implement several of the recommendations put forth by the Greenfield Affordable Housing Partnership. These changes are pro-density and pro-housing, in alignment with Smart Growth principles. They represent small, incremental steps to address both our generational housing crisis and the systematic racial and class discrimination that has always been a part of zoning in the United States (1).

There are four separate proposals in the package, and the council will vote on each individually after the public hearing process. Links to the full text are below along with a brief explanation of what each proposal does, since zoning language can be painfully obtuse.

  • Dimensional requirements. This measure reduces requirements like minimum lot size, minimum frontage, and setbacks in the urban residential and suburban residential zones in line with historical building patterns. This will allow for more dense development in our densest residential zones, and allow for subdivision of some large lots.
  • Parking minimums. This proposal aims to eliminates minimum parking requirements for most residential uses, and several other uses. 20th century zoning tended to mandate more than was necessary, and this practice raised the cost of development and the cost of housing for everyone, and even those who chose not to drive. These reductions will allow the market to decide how much parking is appropriate–something that’s bound to change over time. For more on this topic, I recommend Shoup’s ‘The High Cost of Free Parking’, which is a surprisingly riveting read.
  • Use table. This change will allow 3-family housing by right in most zones to encourage denser new developments and allow homeowners to convert larger homes into the kind of smaller units that Greenfield lacks. This proposal also contains a few minor housekeeping changes, just meant to keep our language current and consistent.
  • Accessory dwelling units. This measure changes how the city defines and manages accessory dwelling units. Units inside a structure or attached to a structure will now simply be consider duplexes, which the city already allows by right in most zones, or triplexes, which the proposal above will allow by right. Only separate structures will be considered ADUs. The changes make both types of units easier to build and easier to administer.

The full zoning ordinance is here, for reference.

Comments? Feel free to send me an email!