I’m writing to endorse Amy Jeschawitz for a second term on the Planning Board. It is the role of the Planning Board to envision and plan for our town’s future. That means they inevitably must grapple with questions of change: proposing adjustments to zoning bylaws to facilitate goals we want, while avoiding those harmful to us. It almost goes without saying that when the Planning Board is doing its job, residents will view it with a fearful eye—for no other reason than that it could bring change, and many of us like things the way they are. But Williamstown needs change. In particular, we need to diversify our housing options—doing nothing is tantamount to passive gentrification.
The current Planning Board has gone above and beyond to invite the community into its discussions. Far from floundering under “internal divisions,” the Board has displayed a healthy diversity of opinion, and has ultimately reached a majority consensus on a path forward. The present bylaw amendments are modest, commonsense, small-scale proposals that represent the smallest amount of change voters seem likely to embrace. The idea of further limiting the ADU proposal by requiring all homeowners to appear before the ZBA, as Dante Birch plans to propose at Town Meeting, is a misguided idea that will reduce the number of ADUs built and pit neighbor against neighbor in the process.
I urge you to support articles 32 and 33 in the Town Warrant as written. By the same token, I urge you to return Amy Jeschawitz to the Planning Board for a second term. She has built up a depth of understanding and experience on the Board that will serve us well, particularly if the Board takes on a revision of the Town’s Master Plan. She is hard-working, fair-minded and forward-thinking. She has remained cheerful and even-keeled in pursuing the Board’s work and has been responsive to community input without losing sight of the long-term role of the Board, that of anticipating the future of Williamstown. Join me in embracing that future.