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Department heads approached for input on zoning update

Date: 3/29/2011

March 30, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — The Planning Board took another step toward a planned review and revamping of the town's zoning ordinance during its March 17 meeting.

Chairman Travis P. Ward proposed members of the board begin arranging informal meetings with selected town department heads, City Councilors Robert Rossi, Jill Messick and George Bitzas, who are assigned to the zoning review committee, and Mayor Richard Cohen to get input on current zoning ordinances and any suggestions for updates.

Ward said this information would later be combined with the zoning review being conducted by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) "to draft new language in order to prepare for a public hearing" in the future on zoning law updates for the town.

He said the board felt it was very important to "listen to public input" on proposed changes before putting any final language into a document for consideration by the City Council.

Like several other Western Massachusetts cities and towns, including East Longmeadow, Ward said Agawam is undertaking this zoning review to ensure the laws are keeping up with "the fast-paced changes in today's communities."

"We're trying to get [laws] that can serve the community," Board member Vi Baldwin said.

Ward added that this review is being underwritten by a $7,500 PVPC grant, meaning, "We get to make progress for the town at no cost to the taxpayers."

The zoning ordinance review project began with an open letter to residents and taxpayers issued by the board on Feb. 22.

The next Planning Board meeting is slated for April 7.

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