Planning Board Chair David Webber center: White Shirt (Good Guy Cowboy)
It sounds like an acronym from the Viet Nam war era. And the battles surrounding it are taking on the same persona of citizen protests...angrily questioning their government. Only this time it's about zoning, the North Amherst Village Center rezoning to be exact, and to a lesser extent, Atkins corner in deep South Amherst.
Last night the Planning Board unanimously (with one abstention) endorsed the new and improved Form Based Zoning proposal for North Amherst. But not before NIMBYs had their say about "sprawl, historic preservation" and, of course, "students slums."
Area resident and long time town meeting member Louis Greenbaum, a major rental property owner and husband of Zoning Board of Appeals member Hilda Greenbaum, played his usual role of Winston Churchill rallying his troops while attempting to intimidate the Planning Board: "North Amherst has been the dumping ground for cheap housing, for multiple dwelling...for large complexes of low cost housing," he stated in his usual forthright manner.
Mr Greenbaum's voice rises in anger as now he is really on a roll:"We wanted no more of these units north of Meadow Street. We had more than our share...did you not hear this? This would completely, completely, change the nature and the quality and the aspect and living in our neighborhood, completely."
And the crowd applauds. Planning Board Chair David Webber throws gas on the fire a short time later by defending students and all the positive things they bring to the table. NIMBYs resented being "lectured".
Last Fall this zoning proposal failed to clear the high hurdle of a two-thirds vote at town meeting although it did garner a majority, 119-79. Since then town officials wisely decided to divide the bookend village centers into two zoning articles thus increasing the likelihood of passage (by reducing the formation of a NIMBY union of North and South) and reducing the size of the area impacted in North Amherst Village Center, the more controversial of the two.
These modification concessions should make the critical difference, but not with the hard core NIMBYs obviously.
Blue area top center north of Cowles Road seems to be the sore spot