Friday, May 20, 2011

An even more expensive view

Kimball House

Wednesday night Amherst Town Meeting voted to place an Agricultural Preservation Restriction on land already owned by the town that was purchased for municipal use (an ill fated attempt to build an elementary school there failed--one of only a few times Amherst voters turned down the sacred schools) as the final moving part in a complicated deal hatched five years ago to preserve the view of privately owned Kimball House.

This was the fourth time Town Meeting deliberated the fate of this parcel as former School Committee member Vladimir Morales failed three times previously to get Amherst Town Meeting to designate the entire 66 acre parcel as "permanent conservation land."

The land was not locked into this protective designation because insiders wanted to keep options open to use it in the future as a possible "exchange" for municipal development on other land in town that borders conservation property.

Five years ago when Town Meeting missed the two-thirds vote required (96-60) Francesca Maltese, then Chair of the Conservation Commission, said prophetically "Even if no one can build on Wentworth Farm, to leverage this and take some of other piece of conservation land out of conservation is almost an ethical issue to deal with. We don't want to use Wentworth Farm to break the covenant on another piece.''

And that's exactly what just happened--except the covenant was broken for a private individual. As part of the deal to remove land from the state APR program so Roger Cherewatti could build his spacious abode behind the Kimball House rather than on it, the town had to pay the state $268,000 (half down the other half over five years) plus find 10 acres of land somewhere in town to replicate the APR land lost on North East Street. And time was just about up for finding that land, otherwise the town would pay the state another $100,000.

Mr. Cherewatti's other house (577 No East St): $2 million valuation

So if the town needs to build, say, a fire station in South Amherst that treads a tad too close to APR land (and Amherst has a LOT of APR land) Wentworth Farm is no longer available as a trade.

Ghostly view west: Smoke stack from UMass $9 million Paradis boiler plant

A town meeting member reminded the body that part of the deal five years ago was the property would be farmed, and he demanded to know if that part of the bargain was being kept. Sure enough. Last year the Cherewatti's received approval from the Department of Agriculture to construct a one acre irrigation pond (for crops) on the remaining APR land.

Mr. Cherewatti's view to the east

And I suppose it's easy to assume that Mr. Cherewatti got the best end of the deal. Either way, he was going to build his beautiful home; but now he has two of them. And this year he will pay the town $40,000 in taxes for the pleasure of his views.

But for anyone traveling along North East Street he provides a beautiful view--for free.


Proud of our Ponziville said...

And this year he will pay the town $40,000 in taxes for the pleasure of his views.



Neunundsechzig said...

Good looks, Kelley-guy.
Remember, 69 is greater than 70.
By that statute, $40,000 is.. oh hell I don't know and I don't care.

Ed said...

Would someone please explain to me how this is something other than the poor subsidizing the rich? The poor -- and that is UMass students -- living in overcrowded, overprices and decrepit apartments so that someone who is rich won't have to look at competing apartment complexes that would both lower the value of rental housing and improve the quality via competition.

Take this one step further, if the town couldn't use UMass to punish the protesters, Amherst would either have to address the housing issue or hire a whole lot more cops and neither would be affordable == and thus UMass keeps the n*****s in the back of the bus and paying for the rich to enjoy stuff like this.....

What part of "walking the walk" do you social justice schmucks not understand????