Mayor Richard J. Kos announced the release of the first municipal GIS internet based Zoning Viewer developed by the Department of Planning and Development. Last year, the City hired a GIS Coordinator to implement, create and manage the City’s GIS systems. A GIS system allows users to visualize, question, analyze and interpret data to better understand the environmental conditions of property. GIS also provides an opportunity for cost savings from increased efficiency, better record keeping, improved communications and more efficient decision making.
The City’s Zoning information has historically been maintained on over 700 40-scale paper maps. The Planning Department spent the better part of the last year digitizing this information into a digital, GIS dataset. Zoning information is important to determine allowable development on a parcel by parcel basis per accepted City Ordinances. Up until this time, any person(s) needing Zoning information were required to visit City Hall to review hard copy maps. In today’s technological age with access to the internet, social media and information sharing, many communities provide public access to this data digitally. Chicopee is now among the cities and towns across the Commonwealth that provide this information readily to staff, community members, real estate agents and developers.
Chicopee’s municipal zoning was originally developed in the 1940s with a minor update completed during the 1970s. For the first time, the City’s zoning can now be considered as a whole or in relation to adjacent parcels or neighborhoods. This will allow City Staff the ability to complete more comprehensive City-scale analysis with regards to zoning and development trends. Mayor Kos detailed the Zoning Viewer’s release, “…as a significant advancement in utilizing technology to improve access to public information for residents, developers and others who require this zoning data to advance a diversity of projects throughout the City.”
In December 2015, the Mayor’s Office, City Council and the Planning Board all unanimously approved the acceptance of the GIS Zoning Map as the City’s official Zoning Map. Since that time, the Planning Department has created an internet based public data viewer available on the City’s website. Residents are able to search for property by address, owner name or parcel number. Also, available for download and viewing is a PDF of the overall City Zoning Map. The Planning Department is working towards releasing additional GIS information as it becomes available.