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.