In June 2015, the City Council of Easthampton, a 16,000-person town in western Massachusetts, unanimously approved a zoning ordinance that caps new retail development at 50,000 square feet. The measure also reduces the acreage requirement for business development from five acres down to three, a move intended to attract smaller businesses.
“In the last 10 years, Easthampton has grown into a really amazing place to live, and we want to protect that,” Easthampton City Councilor Salem Derby told a local news station. “We want to preserve the character.”
Easthampton is neighbored by Northampton, which instituted a size cap in 2002. The full text of the measure can be found in the city’s “Zoning Ordinance” document, under Section 6.10 “Building Size Cap for Retail Uses.”
Section 6.10 Building Size Cap for Retail Uses
(Section 6.10 added by the City Council on June 17, 2015; approved by the Mayor on June 18, 2015)
1. To ensure that new, large scale retail development is consistent with the goals and strategies of the City’s Master Plan.
2. To encourage new retail development that enhances district character within the City’s primary commercial zones.
3. To ensure that new, large scale retail development has minimal impact on the environment and municipal costs of service.
This section shall apply to all Retail and Service uses as listed in Table-5-1, Table of Uses Regulations of the Easthampton Zoning Ordinance, within the Downtown Business (DB), Highway Business (HB) and Neighborhood Business (NB) zoning districts.
The following uses are exempt from this ordinance:
1. Redevelopment of existing commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet within the Downtown Business (DB), Highway Business (HB) and Neighborhood Business (NB).
2. Educational uses as defined by M.G.L. Chapter 40A, Section 3.
3. Solar access or solar energy system as defined by M.G.L. Chapter 40A, Section 1A.
6.103 Size Cap
No building to be occupied by a single commercial retailer shall exceed fifty-thousand (50,000) square feet of gross floor area.