From The Valley Advocate
By Mark Roessler
Monday, November 17, 2008
Together, Northampton–represented by a cast of dozens–and the Citizens Advisory Committee begin to demand more answers from Mayor Higgins and her get-rich-slow plan for Hospital Hill.
On Monday, Nov. 17, for the second time in its 14-year history, the Northampton Citizens Advisory Committee invited the public to participate in one of its meetings. More accurately, the CAC’s chair, Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, let the public speak.
In the past, the public has been welcome to sit and watch during CAC deliberations. During the CAC’s June 18 meeting this year—the meeting a month after Kollmorgen Electro Optical was unanimously voted onto the site—Higgins broke precedent and opened the floor to questions. The meeting had been better attended than most, but with the vote already cast, opponents could do little more than let off steam. At last week’s meeting, however, the public was invited to speak before the vote on a plan to add up to 100 extra housing units to the nearly 200 already approved for Hospital Hill.
The epic three-hour meeting drew a big crowd, noticeably improving the quality as well as the quantity of discourse. Though the CAC had already spent hours discussing the topic twice before, the public raised many new questions—for example, why were 100 houses being requested when the plan only showed 63 new homes packed into the available land?