Friday, April 6, 2012

Party House e-x-p-a-n-s-i-o-n

Amherst ZBA from right:  Mark Parent, Hilda Greenbaum, Keith Langsdale. Jeff Bagg town planner

In spite of strong objections from neighbors and a first round "NO" vote from member Hilda Greenbaum that would have denied the Special Permit, the Zoning Board of Appeals eventually came around to a unanimous 3-0 vote, allowing the house at 156 Sunset Avenue to double from a one family to a two family dwelling, thus legally allowing eight unrelated occupants--guaranteed to be UMass students--to take up residence.

While neighbors concentrated on the problems associated with college aged kids herded into non owner occupied dwellings without on-site managers, many turned their ire directly at Eaglecrest owner James Cherewatti.
 Neighbor Mark Sims voices displeasure (no one in crowd spoke in favor)

Last weekend, for instance, the house in question was the scene of a major party broken up by APD.  An analysis of downtown properties owned by Eaglecrest (123 total living units) shows 75 police calls over the past three years.

Unlike a new zoning bylaw approved by the Planning Board and a two-thirds vote of Town Meeting that applies town wide, this case was only about this particular dwelling.  And since only a small part of the structure was too close to adjacent property, the house could have been brought into conformity (and thereby guaranteed two family status) via a chainsaw.
 156 Sunset Avenue, Amherst

 ZBA member Mark Parent pointed out to the hostile crowd that at least now they can put conditions on the expansion, one of which is for Eaglecrest to enforce a "three strikes and you're out" clause to evict unruly tenants.
 Phil Jackson (rt) questions whether Jamie Cherewatti (left) will enforce discipline rules

Unfortunately the ZBA did not make that a mandatory provision of maintaining the Special Permit, so if Cherewatti does not enforce his own lease provision, there is no mechanism to revoke the Special Permit, thus leaving little recourse for beleaguered neighbors.

As Sonny and Cher would sing, "The beat goes on." Party beat, that is.


28 comments:

Anonymous said...

INCREDIBLE!!!

These are some of the VERY landlords who are deteriorating the quality of life in Amherst for the rest of us.

And the TOWN pays lip service to trying to improve the situation and then not only is this PROVEN problem landlord allowed to jam even people more into a problem house, they can't even attach conditions!?!?!?

WTF!?!??!

Whose side are they on?

Anonymous said...

OMG. You live in a college town..then complain about the noise..Sunset ave in the area of 156 (across from campus) was not, is not, and never will be "quiet". You want quiet? Move to amherst woods..south amherst...etc

It's like buying a home off route 1 in Foxboro...and complaining about traffic on ten sundays a year. Give it a rest.

LarryK said...

There are a bunch of conditions, but the problem is they are not intrinsically tied to the new expanded permit.

Apparently (according to neighbor testimony) there have been way more than 4 tenants living there anyway in violation of the original "one family" zoning.

LarryK said...

OMG, Anon 1:49:

Yeah, that's how bad it is. One irate neighbor quoted Planning Board member Jonathan O'Keeffe from a few months back saying conversion of single family homes to mega student housing was a major problem, but at least this house keeps them contained near UMass, and keeps them out of Amherst Woods, South Amherst, etc.

But if you peruse my rogues gallery of 'Party Houses of the Weekend', you will find them spread out all over Amherst and not just the usual suspects: Sunset Ave, Phillips and Fearing Streets.

Anonymous said...

What a crazy decision, especially in light of all of the partying that has been going on at that house already while it's been a "one-family".

I hope this isn't a start of even more conversions of homes to higher-density student dwellings.

*ugh*

Anonymous said...

It's either more dorms or more home conversions.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:00 pm:
Do we really need either at this point? Are UMass enrollments going up? UMass has built new dorms in recent years, and it seems as though are more than enough apartments and apartment complexes for college students already.

just-wondering

DaveMB said...

(Are UMass enrollments going up?)

Yes, that has been the stated policy of the last two chancellors, to make UMass better by making it bigger. Larry no doubt knows the figures from the discussions about Gateway, etc., but the plan has been to go from roughly 17K to roughly 22K undergrads. What I remember, which may not be right, is that most or all of the expansion would come from dorm building, some of which has already happened.

LarryK said...

But even with the 1,500 beds going up at the Commonwealth College new dirt they still have a net deficit of housing over the next five or ten years.

One big reason Gateway could have been such a major win-win for everybody.

Ed said...

Larry, it is 6,500 beds that are planned in three phases --- the 1,500 is just the first phase.

Now remember that there are only 5,500 in Southwest.

I will cry no tears for Amherst. You all get to live in the cesspool you deserve, and I hope you enjoy it.

AND YOUR NEW PARKING MACHINES SUCK! And the pendantic bitch of a parking officer who couldn't bother to show me how to use it myself was the final straw -- F*CK Amherst! Perhaps I should write a response to Stephanie in her newspaper....

LarryK said...

According to a Jim Wald tweet yesterday, some guy paid a parking ticket at Town Hall entirely in pennies. It's not like you're getting back at The Man by messing with the front desk clerk.

She made him wait while counting the coins (slowly I bet) and refused to take Canadian pennies.

Anonymous said...

Ed, my 14 year old figured out how to use the parking machines and you can't? Maybe that's why its taking you so long to get a degree.

Anonymous said...

Wait... Where is it that you live, Ed?

I thought the town was supposed to wither and blow away as the university enrollment declined. What's happening with that?

Anonymous said...

I do hope we will get ample warning when Ed reaches critical mass. It will be massively entertaining and I want to be sure to get a front row seat.

Anonymous said...

I must say I do agree with anon 1:49 - did Jackson somehow not get where he was moving to when he bought a house on Lincoln Ave? People driving on HIS road to get to school and work, college kids partying on the weekends in HIS neighborhood...

Also... is it the responsibility of a landlord to "enforce discipline rules"? (in fairness i guess those are maybe Mr. Kelly's words?)

LarryK said...

Actually it's Kelley. And yes, it is the responsibility of a landlord to enforce discipline rather than our police department having to do it.

And the "Nuisance House Bylaw" allows for $300 fines TO THE LANDLORD on the 3rd offense of the tenants, so they damn well better start enforcing some discipline.

Unlike you, Phil Jackson grew up here. So I think he knows the lay of the land.

Anonymous said...

Whatever.

Don't ask me to cry when the town gets burnt flat...

c.a.n.t. said...

let me know when the burning happens so I can come get Emily's gate beforehand

Separation of State said...

UMass has a mission to the public, to promote higher education. Bigger does not mean better, but when the higher education businesses... er... I mean private schools refuse to take more students on board, lower tuition, or conduct any research on behalf of the public while receiving all the benefits of a non-profit the town will unfortunately have to bear a higher student burden as UMass picks up the slack.

This is why I advocate for UMass to be more removed from the community, and should not be counted in the town's population. The funding for extra "citizens" to the town from the state should stop in exchange for moving as many students onto campus as possible. Constructing our own post office, restaurants, fire department, grocery store, etc. would sever any town-school connections, be them legal, academic, or financial. The school is large enough to warrant its own voting district, and the gerrymandering of districts would cease as UMass would effectively become its own zone.

LarryK said...

Actually UMass was given it's own on campus voting status (with two very expensive scanners) and turnout was so poor, they nixed the idea.

Separation of State said...

So, addressing that minor, minor, (very irrelevant) detail it would still make sense. Let the town fallow back to the farming community it once was and break all UMass "Amherst" ties. Return the scanners, the school can manage on its own I am sure.

LarryK said...

Well, except for a Fire Department and EMT ambulance service, which are a tad more expensive than voting scanners.

Separation of State said...

Which is why I am advocating for separating UMass from the town. We should use our own private force (as well as keep the student force) and ignore the town, it's obvious students aren't welcome there. The state can even take the funds saved and give them to the school than the town, which obviously doesn't need financial help. UMass can become it's own self-contained atmosphere and remind the town that it is the economic juggernaut and only reason it is on the map.

Anonymous said...

Yea, good luck with that- the university provides you with so many venues to consume alcohol on campus!

Separation of State said...

Hadley has some nice stores, and it won't matter. The point is to remind Amherst the stone age is one university away.

Anonymous said...

"unlike you, mr. (phil) jackson grew up here."

maybe, but i bet i've been paying my own way in this town longer than he has, and longer than most people i know who grew up in this town and still live here.

Dr. Ed said...

I have a much simpler solution -- the Dana/Prescott/Enfield/Grenwich solution -- the legislature revokes Amherst's charter -- MA is a commonwealth and can do this with just a majority vote of the legislature and SCOTUS upheld their right to do this in the 1930s.

Amherst ceases to exist on New Year's Eve. All of Amherst becomes a state reservation, like the Quabbin. The state mails everyone a dollar and takes title to all the property in town -- just like they did the Quabbin -- and SCOTUS upheld this too. (You can sue the state for your fair market value, but at your own expense.)

South Amherst is partitioned off and annexed to Hadley, East Amherst to Pelham, North Amherst to Leverett. Everything from Puffer's Pond to Cushman Village and due East and diagonally to the Jewish Community/Second Congo Church, then down to Pomory Lane and down it to the Hadley line becomes a state-administered reservation known as "University."

Policed by MSP, EMS/Fire provided by the state -- possibly a combined Forest Fire/muni fire department hybrid, the UMPD absorbed into the MSP like the MDC was. All property taxes paid directly to the state. Water provided directly out of Quabbin, the sewer plant moved from it current location to South Amherst and discharged into the brook by Mill Valley road. (This eliminates all need for pumping stations as sewerage can now flow DOWNHILL and not have to be pumped up to UMass.)

This would be great for students, great for UMass, great for the state -- and it would suck to be a townine. Just like it sucked to live in Enfield 80 years ago...

Do not forget that the people who do the grunt work on Beacon Hill are recent UM grads, who HATE Amherst with a passion......

Disincorporate Amherst. Disassemble Amherst. F*** Amherst!

Anonymous said...

ed, I wonder if you will continue to comment about your issues with amherst after you vacate, or do you plan to "move on"?