From The Valley Advocate
By Tom Vannah and Mark Roessler
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A public comment period is open now–until March 30–for those interested in responding to proposed changes made to the master plan for the development on Northampton’s Hospital Hill. The public comment period follows the filing of a Notice of Project Change with the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs by Hospital Hill Development, LLC on March 1. EOEEA Secretary Ian Bowles is scheduled to rule by April 9 on whether the proposed changes require further environmental study.
The formal filing of the notice comes nearly a year after the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) overseeing the project approved a request from developers to add over a hundred housing units to the original plan, diminishing the square footage allotted for office, commercial and community space. While the total site acreage remains the same (124 acres), the acres of land altered from current woodlands and fields expands from 44.8 acres in the original plan to 62 acres.
The original master plan was reviewed and approved by the state in 2003 under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). Subsequent alterations to the plan need to be evaluated to determine whether they warrant further MEPA review. When the original plans for a mixed-use, village-like approach for the site’s southern campus were changed to accommodate the development of Kollmorgen Electro-Optical’s new manufacturing facility, MEPA analysts determined the changes weren’t sufficient to require a re-evaluation of the original approval.