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.