2008-08-14 / Editorial

The zoning future of Jamestown is now


Most of us find zoning a boring topic at best. That was not the case, however, last winter when islanders participated in a series of zoning-related public workshops dealing with the future of the Jamestown village.

Called "A Jamestown Vision," the project was developed to garner public input on how our town's zoning ordinance should be changed. The workshops sought to determine what people liked and did not like about our downtown.

Outside consultants were hired for the project. Many islanders attended the workshops and talked about the downtown. People said they liked the eclectic nature of the village and that it made Jamestown unique. They wondered how we can preserve the character of the village in the years ahead.

Now the Jamestown Planning Commission is working to adapt those ideas into a new set of zoning regulations that will provide the framework for the island's growth and development in the years ahead.

Besides updating the ordinance, the town is considering a new form-based type of zoning ordinance called the SmartCode, which follows a set of predetermined design guidelines.

The interpretation of our island's zoning ordinance could change dramatically.

When the planning commission finalizes the ordinance it will be submitted to the Town Council for approval. After a public hearing, the new zoning ordinance will be put to a council vote.

So, comprehensive zoning changes are ahead. The only problem is that islanders are not paying attention. The planning commission meetings are sparsely attended.

How should we blend residential and commercial properties? Can we create more affordable housing in the village? Can we do away with parking requirements?

Can we keep Jamestown from becoming another Nantucket?

Development pressure on Jamestown will continue to increase.

Now is the time to voice your opinion. Copies of the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance are available at the Town Hall. Residents can also get copies of the Pattern Book and Design Guidelines for building in the village.

It is important that islanders pay attention and educate themselves on the proposed zoning changes and how the SmartCode will impact their properties. Once the new zoning ordinance is enacted it will be too late to complain.

Now is the time to speak up. You can do so by attending the planning commission meetings.

— Jeff McDonough

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