Thursday, March 10, 2011

ZBA (almost) approves ABC permit. Sláinte!

Jeff Bagg (Amherst Senior Planner) ZBA: Eric Beal, (Chair) Hilda Greenbaum, Tom Ehrgood

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!

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ORIGINAL REPORT (Thursday night)
9:12 PM

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."

Amen!

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.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep, the sucessfully passed themselves off as a family restaurant. I feel bad for those folks on Charles Ln.

LarryK4 said...

They are a family restaurant (my family loves it), so it was not all that hard.

Even Lauran Vieland who lives at 19 Charles lane and last month worried that people would loiter and get into fights said tonight, "Now my fears are calmed down. I want to be a good neighbor."

Ed said...

Larry -- do the research -- did the "Laundry Club" have a liquor license when it was built? I can't see all the stuff in there, including the bar, for just selling the occasional bag of chips which they do now.

There was a business model of having laundry bars -- where you had some drinks while doing your laundry, except that it freaked the girls out having guys they were interested in watching them fold their (girl's) underwear, and the guys didn't much go for doing laundry at all, and by the end of the '80s it was gone. This, of course, the exact time when Newmarket was being built/run.

Anonymous said...

another day, another downtown vacancy.

LarryK4 said...

Oh I'm pretty sure Barry Roberts already has someone lined up to replace ABC (another restaurant)

Anonymous said...

If you think ABC is just a family retaurant, you've never been to the upstairs bar.

Let me say that again, since most older people don't go up there. The Upstairs bar. It is a student bar period. It is open and busy until 1am. And it's not families dining up there until 1am.

Who do you think all the "doormen" are that they keep talking about? They are bouncers. If you go upatairs on a weekend night, it is jam packed with drunk students and the music is blaring.

Anonymous said...

It's as if people who complain about students drinking and hanging out at bars, never drank or hung out at bars.

LarryK4 said...

"All things in moderation."

Anonymous said...

Oh for God's sakes, bring back the DRAKE.

jim said...

I'm just glad I don't have to live next to Anonymous 8:30 poster.
You probably are the type of person who comes out of your house to yell at neighborhood kids that cross his lawn !!
Life is short, as exposed in Japan today.
Get a life !!

Dale said...

My personal thought is there will be the inital influx of new curiosity seekers that will make ABC really busy when it opens in the new location. This happens with all new openings bar, restaurant, gym, etc,,,, It will eventually settle down and you will then get your standard crowd. Yes there will be loud music at times, but stand next to any gym that has cardio classes and they crank up the music just as loud. So this shouldn't be any new introduction to Charles LN. What is yet to be seen is how many students will be frequenting, and their behavior. Long story short is ABC stayed in Amherst, and Barry Roberts will rent to a new tax paying business This will help to carry the financial burden of Amherst. Lastly I to bring my wife and children in there for dinner and the boys love it.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, someone testified last night that he was a member of the defunct 'Leading Edge Gym' and that there was a Zumba class at 9:00 PM where they cranked the music to an earsplitting level.

The walls are thick solid concrete so it's unlikely any noise travels the 120 feet beyond the property line to the nearest neighbors on Charles Lane. Otherwise they would have complained about Leading Edge.

Plus Mr. Korpita testified that he was planning to have a "Jazz group" for live entertainment on occasion, not a rock-and-roll band.

Anonymous said...

Here's a listing from the ABC's website about upcoming events (which are not just the Jazz band as emphasized at the hearings)
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MAN vs WOLF
March 17, 2011 Local and national music scene veterans Darby Wold Makaya McCraven and Jeff D'Antona will be creating a high energy funk dance and R&B storm downstairs on Saturday night. Picking up where MAN vs WOLF vs MACHINE left off last time don't be surprised if they blow the doors off. Continuing our highly successful live music series these guys are not to be missed. Seriously. 10pm-12am
---------------------------

Also, I am looking at an old class schedule from the Leading Edge and there is NO class starting later than 6:30, running for an hour.

THIS IS SUCH A SNOW JOB.

Anonymous said...

"ever-so-slight change in usage called a "special permit""

Yep, a slight change of use that's, well, a complete change of use. If you've ever seen the noise that Rafter's makes, then you got to feel for those poor Charles Lane folks. It started with letting in a supermarket, which was going to be nice and quiet, and now they get a bar. That's change of use to me. This ZBA stinks as they are just a rubber stamp tha runs over the community.

LarryK4 said...

The snow, thank God, is almost gone.

LarryK4 said...

The COMMERCIAL complex known as New Market Center was constructed at a busy commercial corner in 1986.

How many neighbors on Charles Lane purchased their homes prior to that?

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a busy commercial corner, since there was no commercial business there at all. At the time it was constructed, cooler heads questioned Louis's Foods prospects in up goinging against Price Chopper and Stop & Shop but as always the sentimental appeals carry the day over common sense. Louis's was gone in a blink and now it has devolved to this. You think Newmarket would have been approved it if the plans had a large bar in the middle of it? I doubt it.

LarryK4 said...

Of course not, because that was back in the day when Amherst was famous for their anti-business attitude (and damn proud of it as well.)

But I believe Rafters bar was across the street (although at the time probably still known as Chequers) and Hamilton Newell commercial printing also on that side of University Drive was probably making a fair amount of noise.

Ryan Willey said...

It will never cease to amaze me how brazen anonymous posters can be.Please have the courage to sign your name when posting It means a lot more if you do.

Anonymous said...

Larry,
Do you know what the hold up is with the seafood joint that was supposed to go in at another Barry Roberts property in town? It has been an exceedingly long wait. Permitting? Or maybe investor money running out? Curious.

LarryK4 said...

I heard it was not going to happen.

If I'm still around next week, I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

Its a bar. They dont belong there. Amherst can support business without gutting zoning, which is to protect residents.

Anonymous said...

who keeps wondering why charles lane people didn't complain about the gym? their classes were DURING THE DAY. hello people.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna love sitting on the patio looking at the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

shoot yourself

Harry throbhurts said...

Larry you are feeding false and misleading information

kind of like the rothchilds when they fed their network lies about napoleons defeat , there was a bank run, and the rothchilds got super rich

who are you helping make their bankrun?

Roberts? abc?

Anonymous said...

seafood spot has money problems...not enough cash or credit to get the place finished..to bad but you need to know what your getting in to.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the new wrap place downtown does well. The timing of their opening is tough. Students have no money after Spring Break!

jim said...

Did not see scores of people opposing this at either of the ZBA's meetings ??
and one of the two Charles St. home owners present in opposition at the last meeting, was thankful and satisfied with how the ZBA was handling the permit request.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that also seems to have brought town officials to their senses regarding the Lincoln Avenue blockade, when more folks turned up at the least hearing to oppose than support and the supporters were not overly passionate.

jim said...

and after rereading, obviously the Anonymous "Snow Job" wasn't.

Dale said...

I am equally confused at how little support for charles lane people there was. Most of it was shouted from far away and most didn't want their names to be known. Why in this town do many people want thier words to be heard, but not from where these words come from. I am always suspicious of groups that shout loud from behind a curtain then run when the curtain is pulled open. I guess we just live in the town of the great "OZ" LOL!

LarryK4 said...

Sunlight, transparency and accountability combined will separate the men from the boys or women from the girls as the case may be.

Anonymous said...

Or the egotistical self-promoters from the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

All but 3 of the Charles Lane residents were fine with ABC, and the 3 showed up the first meeting. At the second only 2 showed up.

Anonymous said...

So once again the small population that resists change of any sort, attempts to derail any growth in in town. I'm happy to see there is some change taking place so that we might look like a place that future businesses forsee as a place of opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Dale said:
"Most of it was shouted from far away and most didn't want their names to be known. Why in this town do many people want their words to be heard, but not from where these words come from."

If you are a regular reader of this blog and therefore familiar with this blogger's mean, nasty, derisive, mocking, infantile name-calling abuse of anyone in the public arena, then I think you have one of the major reasons for the anonimity.

Sadly.

Anonymous said...

a stable sustainable local economy does not correlate with growth

growth results in higher rent, and tenants going belly up.

ask Barry

Dale said...

So true Anon 6:50, I try and voice my opinions in an fair educated way. Then I totally ignore vial responses. Most of the people that post in such a manner win the argument just by having you respond to their vicious attacks. I'm all for a debate, but not when any percentage of anyones response is filled with four letter words. As I have learned your vocabulary is a clear sign of your intelligence. and I'm not talking about knowing every sophisticated in the english language, just how you present the words you do know.