Thursday, February 17, 2011
ABC MIA from Town Center?
Once again the Zoning Board of Appeals seems poised to cast another, gasp, pro-business decision; this time in favor of the Amherst Brewing Company, an established bar/restaurant, to relocate its successful operation a mile from town center into a larger commercial space located on a busy direct route to Umass, the Golden Goose of stable employment for all of Western Massachusetts.Formerly The Leading Edge, aka Gold's Gym
Thus it appears the NIMBYs power to snuff development in Amherst is, finally, beginning to wane--on a couple of major fronts. The ZBA, after a protracted hearing process, allowed the variance required for Dr. Kate Atkinson to practice family medicine in a Professional Research Park, thus she will construct a $2.5 million dollar LEED certified 16,000 square foot building, enhancing the taxbase not to mention providing quality medical care to her thousands of patients.
And last week the public hearing to allow ABC to move into the former Leading Edge Gym location in a larger commercial building a mile down the road seemed to garner major public support--including Stephanie O'Keeffe, the Chair of the Amherst Select Board, and Tony Maroulis , the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and a plethora of patrons far removed from the college aged stereotypes neighbors seem to fear the most.
Those speaking in favor of the variance pointed out the previous tenant, a Health Club operation open 100 hours per week, was far noisier than the brew pub and the Jones Library currently adjacent to ABC has never had complaints about either the noise (and a library would notice) or any odor complaints due to the brewing process or routine cooking.
Meanwhile the Amherst Redevelopment Authority is steaming forward with the Gateway Corridor Project, an urban renewal joint effort between Umass, Amherst and a private tax paying developer to significantly beautify the main corridor connecting the campus to the downtown. We have whittled down the original field of four consultants for the "visioning process" to only two and both will come in to pitch their expertise in person at the next two meetings (in Executive Session.)
The ARA will award the consultant contract by March 1st. The ZBA meets again March 10 to present their decision concerning the ABC. I'll drink to that.
The infamous Anon letter mailed to the neighborhood a few days before the 2/10 ZBA meeting.
Former Amherst Bulletin Columnist Baer Tierkel countered in an email to the Planning Department saying "I received an anonymous letter asking me to write against this move, so be aware that there is a campaign against this move being hatched-anonymously My guess is it is from people who want their Gym (Leading Edge) back , of which I was a member, but do not have a viable plan to make that happen. So they are sabotaging another local business with their anonymous campaign."
They also plan for outdoor dining during the wonderful weather season