Friday, April 8, 2011

Amherst Solar Farm meets Jerry Springer show!

The only thing missing among the crowd who jammed the town's solar farm public forum Wednesday night was bullhorns, pitchforks and torches. Perhaps a better headline would be: "When NIMBYs attack."

Yes amazingly enough these restless natives who purchases expensive homes next to an old unlined landfill are worried a commercial solar array will ruin their property values. After all, real estate agents promised them the landfill would remain open space for 99 years. And if you can't trust real estate agents who can you trust? Used car salesmen perhaps?

The complaints aired ran the typical gambit: noise, visual pollution, losing open space to walk the dog and go sledding, turning the neighborhood into another "Love Canal" and--my favorite--Russia dealing with Chernobyl compared to the way Amherst town government is now going about the process. Yikes!

Kind of far fetched to claim the solar array will cause damage to the landfill cap when DEP will have to approved it after exhaustive study and the expert the town is partnering with, John DeVillars is a former New England Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
video
A couple years ago Town Meeting was going to award Guilford Mooring "Mr. Congeniality" for his patient, good natured, humorous way of presenting DPW issues to that legislative body. So for him going Postal, says a lot...

Voter poll on Localocracy (looking like a landslide)

The Daily Collegian reports

30 comments:

Ed Cutting said...

Larry, why weren't these people arrested and those of them who are UMass Faculty/Staff FIRED, and those who are retired from UMass have their pensions revoked?

This is outrageous -- it is far worse (and more disruptive) than any loud party that someone may have in a house. It literally is preventing the administration of government, it is the disruption of a public meeting (a criminal offense), and why is it tolerated when we essentially send SWAT Teams after kids with a keg?

I have concerns about this proposal -- I would suggest all to read the Ward Commission report on UMass Boston (built on the old Boston Dump - but fortunately over the part where they dumped West Boston demo debris) -- and there are real issues with building on landfill -- issues I don't see addressed (yet).

Mooning is an intelligent guy who knows his stuff, but he can only answer ONE question at a time and this is outrageous!

Ed said...

One other thing -- there are a lot of cheap houses built quite cheaply in the 1970s which are now worth quite a bit, not because the houses themselves are valuable but because of (a) the expansion of UMass, (b) the lack of anything else but McMansions being built in the last quarter century, and (c) the woefully undersized road network supporting UMass.

An institution the size of UMass (let alone a town with two other colleges in it) ought to have an interstate spur (I-991) going west and across the river to I-91 and another interstate spur (I-990) going either over the notch or ESE through Belchertown and connecting with the MassPile (I-90).

This is the only Land Grant University in Southern New England that doesn't have Amtrak service to Boston -- USM has it, UNH has it, URI has it, UCONN has it and if they extend the DownEaster to Bangor (as is planned -- which I love because it will connect in Brunswick with the existing train to Rockland) UMaine Orono will have it only 10 miles away and with a municipal bus service connection to it.

It is nice having a train to DC, but reliable frequent train service to Boston would enable students/faculty to commute to UMass and not have to live here, which is why we will neither see it nor bigger roads.

We must keep UMass students overcrowded in overpriced rental housing so as to keep the property values up...

Anonymous said...

I am appalled. You can trust Mooring -- with your family's life. And you have when he served actively in the Guard with members of your family.

Let me offer an apology on behalf of my fellow citizens. I wonder if they are some of the same people who booed HHH off the stage when he appeared at UMass. Let's return to civility.

Anonymous said...

@Ed Cutting,

"why weren't these people arrested and those of them who are UMass Faculty/Staff FIRED, and those who are retired from UMass have their pensions revoked?"

Pretty harsh response for impolite behavior at a town meeting. Do you think before you write?

One final question--what should happen to you at your job?

Let the punishment fit the crime, if there's even been a crime.

PS - I'm exercising my option to be anonymous, so any requests for my identity are a waste of space.

LarryK4 said...

Take a walk,hike or go sledding out at the municipally owned Cherry Hill Golf Course (purchased at far greater expense than the old landfill.)

Or...put the solar array out there.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's expected that, if you are going to serve in public office either as an elected or appointed official, you must be in some kind of a zone, projecting calm at all times. The most successful people in Amherst government have understood that.

But not everybody can get to that demeanor and the inner mental state required to project it, and those folks get chewed up by the mob here.

With so many individuals who view themselves as the smartest person in town, Amherst can be a pretty nasty place. It's one of the reasons for the shrinking candidate pool.

When you can't treat someone as decent as Gilford Mooring with respect, you've hit a new low.

Anonymous said...

I think Ed and Bach should buy an island somewhere and then they can get on with their lives and put their tarnished pasts behind them.

The way the people treated Mr. Mooring is typical of the elite ignorance this town has. They want their word to be last and will constantly interupt you untill you are beaten into submission. Then to top it of sit there with blank looks on their faces and claim to wonder "What did I do" when you finally give up trying to explain your point.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is, these people seemed to want answers to their questions, but had no interest in listening to those attempting to provide them. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching the replay on ACTV as we speak and Jerry Springer was an apt metaphor. I've never seen such an embarrassing display of Amherst nimbyism in action. I totally get that people have questions and concerns. But PEOPLE! we are not talking about installing a nuclear facility here. Lets tone it down a few notches and enter into a dialog instead of a screaming match.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Mooring should have thicker skin. He couldn't stand the heat, and stormed out.

Anonymous said...

These folks don't trust the D.E.P., the E.P.A. or the T.O.A, but they do trust real estate agents... priceless!!

Anonymous said...

Someday no one is going to be there for the heat. No one will run. No one will serve. And the elite ignoramuses will then scratch their heads and ask, "How come no one wants to be subjected to my constant questioning and alarmism?"

Anonymous said...

"Hey, Maud, what do you say we see how far we can push the military man who runs our DPW and drive him absolutely bonkers? Wouldn't that be fun?"

At the root of any controversy in Amherst? It's all about the property values.

BANANA.

Anonymous said...

This project will increase the value of ALL homes in Amherst by finally addressing the issue of stabilizing the tax base with revenue from non-residential sources. It is in the interest of the town manager to keep housing values growing - why would he do something that he thought would bring the value of homes down - especially high-end homes?! I hope that people can calm down and start listening first, then speaking respectfully. The temper tantrum routine isn't a long term strategy for success in negotiation.

Anonymous said...

"At the root of the controversy...It's all about the property values"

NO, NO, it's all about the concern for children. You know, that's why they bought homes next to an unlined dump - their deep concern for their children.

I'm not surprised that people who live in 3000+ sq ft houses don't understand the need for sustainable energy -- even though they are the largest energy users in town. It's just that someone else needs to sacrifice for their high energy use.

Ed Cutting said...

Regarding my proposal to subject faculty/staff (who have no Constitutional rights)to the standards that students (who do have Constitutional rights), are held to:

Pretty harsh response for impolite behavior at a town meeting. Do you think before you write?

Yes. And the point I am trying to make is that if Amherst/Hadley are going to use UMass to punish off-campus misbehavior, then they ought to do it across the board, to everyone.

One final question--what should happen to you at your job?

Let's answer it with a what would happen: "Expulsion" (from UMass) or lesser sanction "as determined by the responsible University official."

Let the punishment fit the crime, if there's even been a crime.

Being accused of violating a municipal ordinance is neither a crime nor a conviction of a civil offense, yet kids are being expelled from UMass for it.

Hey -- what is fair is fair....
These people disrupted more governmental business than a loud party would/could...

Ed Cutting said...

One other question -- to all of you -- why do you persist in believing that there is a standard that should apply to you and then a different standard that should apply to others?

Why do you believe that you should be held to one set of rules, but that UMass Students -- who are somehow considered inferior to you -- should have a whole different set of rules?

Why is proposing that UMass follow the protocol of punishing people for misbehavior so outrageous a thing to say? If you don't like this rule, if you don't like the fact that it might apply to you then you need to have some serious concerns about it applying to anyone.

Or are UMass students just the N******s of the New Millenium, the scapegoatable people upon whom all the ills of the world can be blamed? How can you people claim to be so "Socially Just" while displaying such bigotry and prejudice toward an identifiable group, the vast majority of which you have never met and never will?

Is it a case of after having realized that African Americans are human beings and that bigotry towards them is unacceptable, you couldn't exist without someone to hate, someone to feel superior to, and hence had to go after the UM Students?

What part of bigotry and prejudice being wrong do you folk not understand?

Anonymous said...

First of all, the voiciferous people at the open meeting are not preventing the administration of government at all. They are just preventing those with the information from imparting that information to that particular group.

Secondly, do you really think that if the Town Manager wants to go forward with this plan, these people will stop the project? How will they do that? Will they hire attorneys?

Will there be a town wide vote on the solar panel farm? Let's get real here: If students are having a loud party with 100 or more people, many of whom are drunk, don't you think that's a risk to public safety? How would you expect the neighbors to pick up their house and go elsewhere? How many ambulance runs for alcohol poisoning would be o.k.?

I am so sick to death of being called a racist and a bigot by people who have no stake in the matter except to be antagonistic. I was a student here in the late 60's and we didn't even know the town existed. We brought our beer onto campus and had it there.

Most of us can figure out where the root of our employment lies. Most of us are parents who would want someone to put the brakes on our out of control children if they were a hundred miles away.

Finally, Mr. Ed, if you had seen some of the inner workings of the "SWAT Team," you might be a little more compassionate. I have watched a police officer stay with a frightened student as they cut her out of her wrecked car. He didn't stay because he had to, he stayed because he cared. I have seen a 911 dispatcher have a really rough night after dispatching an ambulance for a diabetic student who decided to drink 14 shots of rum. And I have seen our DPW put in a badly needed crosswalk so that we and students would have less chance of being run over.

By the way, UMass Boston was controversial because it was built on Columbia Point which used to house low income people. They were dispossessed. So it was o.k. when people lived there but not when there was a school there? Let's get real.

All I know is: We need something to shore up this tax base. Amherst needs something, whether it's industry or town projects. I've long said, 'The only industry Amherst will accept is someone sitting in a room thinking.' Guess what, that doesn't pay any bills.

Anonymous said...

It is outrageous that people living next to a project that will change their neighborhood and lives and were never consulted about it beforehand got angry and went to a public meeting and expressed their feelings. Don't they know that they are supposed to let the town government and employees decide these things for them without any input? That's the way it works in Amherst.

LarryK4 said...

Didn't they know they were buying homes next to an unlined landfill?

Although I did hear Mr. Flower was quite the Svengali.

Anonymous said...

Expressing your feelings is one thing. Shouting over anyone trying to make a point or field a question is quite another. It was a total disgrace and I say kudos to Mr. Mooring for walking out on it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the behavior displayed by the residents was disrespectful. And it is not an excuse that they claim they were not consulted. They are now being informed at the appropriate time. Maybe if any of them participated in town gov or even paid attn to town gov they would have known sooner.

The town could have waited until AFTER the town meeting election to tell them. After seeing them behave the way they did I wish the town had waited to notify them.

This is not going to affect property values - plant some trees and get on with your lives.

Anonymous said...

I want the solar. I don't want the landfill re-opened in order to receive toxic dirt from Atkins as a way to level the ground to prepare it for the solar array.

Can we get the solar array at that location without more toxic dirt being put into that landfill?

Anonymous said...

It's all about money, folks. Why would town use soil contaminated with arsenic for regrading the landfill instead of clean one? Because Atkins pays town for that. Why is Atkins willing to pay? Because it will cost even more to properly dispose the soil in other locations. The question is: for how little money will the town endanger its neighborhood? And the solar... That's a lot of money. Would you really trust Blue Wave to care about the town? Don't be silly. They are ready to overload the landfill with whatever panels they can squeeze in. Vibrating inverters causing damage to the landfill cap? That's the town's problem, a multi-million one. Blue Wave will be long gone by then, as they are just providing initial capital and subcontracting all work. I bet if you work with the neighborhood on a reasonably scaled solar farm that allows a distance between the panels and their backyards, and move noisy inverters away from the landfill cap and their homes, they would be willing to compromise. But no, let's hit them hard and laugh at their pain. The only problem with it, you'll be next and there will be nobody to stand for YOU...

Anonymous said...

Trees can not be planted near landfill to mitigate visual impact due to the width=height formula used in architecture. Tree roots extend by the same distance as the height of the tree. A tree planted near a landfill will damage the landfill cap.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know the Arsenic is bonded to the soil and can't be "washed out". After it's covered with clean dirt the chances for harm are nill. Unless it washes up hill all the way to Pelham and enters the drinking water.

LarryK4 said...

And it is, after all, a landfill--the most highly regulated classification of property usage in the state (at least until we start building nuclear plants.)

Ed said...

If I saw any of the local police departments (a) concerned about UMass students or even (b) not treating us like the enemy -- and you gotta listen to what the officer say with a few beers in them down to Rafters and Wings -- I would have a very different attitude. (As I once did.)

Maybe an APD officer held a girl's hand (emphasis girl's hand) while she was cut out of her wrecked car -- query, was she cute?

Go to UMass for even a semester and you will start thinking like this....

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the town had approached residents along the landfill with their proposal much earlier in the process - addressed concerns of visual impact - environmental risk etc. - the meeting perhaps may have been less contentious - from my understanding residents were caught off guard and felt disregarded by town officials - that was raw emotion exhibited at that meeting - how would you feel if your total landscape around you changed?- given that it is happening in their backyard maybe they should have been made aware before the rest of us - solar energy is coming to amherst - but we can be decent to the abutters - surely some accommodations to their concerns can be met - the town should be sensitive to all the needs, lives and homes of it's inhabitants

Anonymous said...

Larry... check this out... http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2002-06-07-dog-usat.htm
We know that there are no private wells near the old landfill, but if
they don't want arsenic... they shouldn't want this etiher!!
Perhaps worth some more googling