Imagine Amherst is a project to reimagine and improve several commercial centers in Amherst so that they work better with surrounding communities and encompass the vision that residents desire.
This project aims to update the Town of Amherst Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code, which have become somewhat outdated and may not be producing the types of development desired by the Town or its residents. The goal is to uncover the community’s future vision for existing commercial centers. As people’s lifestyles, habits and use of new technologies drive the economy and create different ways to live, work and play, we must anticipate the community’s needs. Once that vision is established in the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Code will be updated with corresponding language that physically creates the types of centers the community envisions.
With the help of Code Studio, a consulting firm familiar with the Town, two Committees made up of local stakeholders and community members were formed – a Working Committee and a Technical Committee. Over the course of about eighteen months, Code Studio and Town staff will be working with the Committees, residents, developers, and business owners to analyze the characteristics of existing centers and the current Code, learn about other communities which exemplify the types of centers desired here, and create best practices and language to support the revised Plan and Code.
Due to the limited scope of the project, a select number of centers will be studied during a public workshop in September (‘The Charrette”). These centers will likely be areas where new zoning will be applied. Instead of “one size fits all” zoning approach, the new zoning will be sensitive to the surrounding community – each will have different visions and guidelines. The centers studied during the Charrette will become examples whose planning and zoning can then be applied to other similar centers throughout the Town.
Everyone is encouraged to participate in the community planning and design process by attending one of the events scheduled during the week of September 22-28, 2016. The Charrette is an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to provide their input and ideas that will help shape the future vision for the centers in the Plan and Code. More information can be found online at www.imagineamherst.com, and you can keep up with the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Tour some of the commercial centers with us: our next scheduled guided tour is July 20 at 5:30 pm and lasts about two and a half hours. Call the Planning Department to reserve a spot at 631-7051.