Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Future?

Last year Town Meeting turned down (117-63) Ken Bergstrom’s request to rezone his property out on the Sunderland line off Rt. 116, a major highway. He wanted to put in a mix of condo’s and retail under Village Square Zoning.

The property was formerly used by Environmental PC Poster Child Bioshelters, to grow fish and basil (they employed mentally retarded workers, used solar heating and recycled 99.7% of all its water and wastes). And they went belly up.

Now it sits like a set for a post apocalyptic movie (Note to Mel Gibson: If you ever do another Mad Max…). Fine greeting for all those entering Amherst from the north.

The 40,000 square foot pad underneath the rotting shelter is concrete so it’s not like you can farm it. But the Conservation Commission and Agricultural Commission wanted it to stay a fishfarm (although they were not going to invest the millions to get it back up and gurgling)

And our Old Majority Select board, with has-been Gerry Weiss in his brief but glorious reign as Chair voted 3-2 against the rezoning (newbie’s Stephanie and Alisa voted in favor.) Ann Awad told Town Meeting "This is an intense development project on a fragile piece of land that is very wet”

And she of course was the only Select Board member a few years earlier to vote in favor of the hostile rezoning of Meadow Street land (not to far down the road) to ‘Flood Prone Conservancy” that set off a marathon legal battle costing the town $150-K and the landowners over $500-K.

Former Bioshelters CEO John Reid told Town Meeting he was raising funds (estimated at $6 to $10 MILLION) to restart the business. So far, one year later, nothing. Had the zoning change gone thru the development would have been worth millions on the tax rolls, rather than the paltry $200,000 in current valuation.

Town Meeting 5/19/08.
Let's hope Mr Reid takes off his cap when meeting with Venture Capitalists.


Anonymous said...

"belly up" like the dead fish carcasses floating in the old pools inside the structure. LOL.

Wasn't Levi-Neilsen planning on developing that site too?

When is the town going to sign off on exclusive rights for the Sunderland Rd. Research park land (that will never get leased/sold b/c of location & demand)? That seems like a no-good deal.

Who would want to start a business in Amherst when Hadley, Greenfield and Holyoke are so close by?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, no crime in Holyoke. Plus it's got better schools. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

I think you take off your cap when you're speaking to people you respect . . .

Ed said...

On a more serious note, even without "dead fish carcasses floating in the old pools", there are serious health issues relative to West Nile and such with this place being left as it is.

Board of Health been down there recently to look at things?

Gotta wonder...

Anonymous said...

Will be the new town hall in a year or two...