UPDATE: 5:30 am
Apparently I left too early last night (babysitter issues): the ZBA unanimously acknowledged that there are no issues to cause a denial, but never actually came to a formal vote on the special permit...yet. Next Wednesday they will finish up crafting the "conditions" for approval and, hopefully, take the formal vote.
Now you know why it takes so long to get anything done in Amherst!
Tonight the omnipotent Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously headed towards approving an ever-so-slight change in usage called a "special permit", crucial for the Amherst Brewing Company to relocate a mile from Amherst town center into a larger, more open commercial space on busy University Drive (so named because it is a main artery to UMass) with a plethora of free parking.
I say omnipotent because the ZBA (appointed by the duly elected five-member Select Board) is essentially the same as a state Governor deciding a death row pardon that requires a unanimous approval from all three sitting members.
This would now make two consecutive business friendly decisions from the ZBA, turning aside organized neighborhood protest lamenting noise, traffic and--in the case of ABC--the all too familiar complaint about potential rowdy student behavior fueled by too much alcohol.
In fact on Monday night, Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe (during a discussion defense for hiring a new Building Inspector to enforce housing health and safety codes) succinctly stated, "There is nothing more important facing the town right now than the quality of life issues in the neighborhoods. The issue of student rentals, student parties...they really affect every single permit application that comes before the ZBA, Planning Board."
She goes on to issue a stern challenge: "This is an area we need to be serious about. Not just for the quality of life for people today, but because of it being an obstacle to making progress for the future."
Attorney Alan Seewald, ABC owner John Korpita
Even the formerly over optimistic folks over at "save our Gym" and revive the Leading Edge seem to agree with my assessment that the ZBA all but approved the permit and will simply dot the i and cross the t on Wednesday:
ZBA March 10th hearing results
The ZBA all but approved ABC's Special Permit application at last night's hearing. On Wed. they will finalize some restrictions and conditions and then it's a done deal.
There is discussion of alternate spaces. It would be a much bigger and more complex project.
Further info to follow.