Thursday, November 4, 2010

There grows the neighborhood

So after eight L-O-N-G years of bitter strife--including of course the courts, costing the developer over $100,000 the town $10,000 and the neighbors about the same in legal fees --the "low income" housing project in Orchard Valley South Amherst is going full steam ahead, even on a rainy day.

I put low income in quotations because the 24 units will work out to $350,000 per unit in simply construction costs. And since it is "low income housing", it will pay reduced local property taxes.

Amherst is currently around 50/50, where half of all property in town is owned by tax exempts--although our assessor is getting vigilant about finding innovate ways to tax them, even if at reduced rates.

HAP, inc is a private 501c3 nonprofit organization serving all of Hampden and Hampshire counties and is funded by Federal, State and Private donations--in other words Other People's Money.

The 24 unit development springing up on Longmeadow Drive was approved by our ZBA under the the state's Chapter 40B affordable housing law, even though Amherst is not below the 10% threshold. HAP argued that Amherst has a less than 1% vacancy rate and that there was a strong "regional need" for the housing.

Hence the ire of the neighbors. The project development manager called it "the most extensive opposition of all the 40 projects we've done in western Massachusetts."

Let's hope the neighbors on the other side of town do not break that record in trying to torpedo 'The Gateway Project'.
Much of South Amherst was once an apple orchard harvested for generations by competing farm empires Atkins and Wentworth who both used lead arsenate--the insecticide of choice from around 1892 through the 1970s.

Since it was routinely sprayed on orchards in high concentrations, some of it would drip and bond tightly with the the top 10 or 12 inches of soil then separate into lead and arsenic, either of which is hazardous--especially to young children.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sure it will turn out just as well as The Boulders. Note to Police Log, save room.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing.

Anonymous said...

at $350,000 per unit construction costs it would seem that single family dwellings could have been built disbursed around town on town owned land...thus mixing neighborhoods and income levels to the benefit of everyone--

rahter than creating a "projects" type environment.


Ed said...

I have to wonder how may $300 fines will be assessed. And how many are already being assessed at GunPoint, Boulders & Mill Valley.

And why aren't they?

And one other thing -- a couple of these units are restricted for minorities. Yep, read carefully and a couple can only be rented to a minority person

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, the Habitat for Humanity houses on Stanley Street cost about $100,000 in materials and the labor was donated (although President Jimmy Carter did not show up) and Amherst's number one landowner, Amherst College, donated the property.

Thus the town ended up with 4 very affordable houses for families costing only $100-K each.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose any of the families who will fill these units live in Amherst now?

Anonymous said...

Look you whiner babies. You can't have it both ways. Don't cry about Amherst getting too expensive so that only the elites can live here and then cry when someone builds something that you don't have to be rich to afford.

Anonymous said...

Who's whining??

The point I was trying to make is that the families could live in affordable housing that was not project-like for the same amount of money...the children could live in a house with a yard where they could plant things and feel proud that it's theirs...not a apt project type's just not the same.

AND besides that neighborhood is still one of the most if not the most affordable one in Amherst, adding an apt complex to it is just not keeping with the whole sense of the neighborhood......
i truly believe having affordable housing be apts and project like doesn't accomplish the same feeling of neighborhood...


Anonymous said...

Is there anything you won't complain, carp, whine, bitch and otherwise gripe about in this town?

Perhaps you need a hobby, like building the Andrea Doria out of balsa wood.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I heard one of the reasons the neighborhood was so upset is that the original owner wanted to split the property for 3-4 houses and wasn't allowed due to zoning. Then they get this looming over their backyards, etc. Any truth to that?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 9:56,
Yes, I don't complain about anonymous posters. What's your position rather than attacking and complaining about other comments?

Do you support the type of low income housing that is being built in the neighborhood? Do you live there?

Do you see flaws in my point of view that single family structures may benefit low income families better than project-type housing?

Please present something if you have anything; if you don't then you are just complaining about others point of view, carping as it were.


Ed said...

Are they still saying that a few of the units will be for minorities-only? Isn't that illegal?

Anonymous said...

Last I heard Ed they can only qualify due to income. They couldn't even say they had to be from Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else find the signs posted in the picture to be an embarrassment for Amherst?

After all, they are building homes for people who could not live here otherwise.

Whether the rhetoric used is liberal or conservative, hate is hate.

I hope whoever moves into these new dwellings lives a happy life and finds this to be a good place to raise children. Maybe they can ignore the sentiment expressed in those signs.

Anonymous said...

the signs are not hateful to those that will be living there. they simply state the lies told by HAP