Friday, September 21, 2012

Lords Over the Land

290 Lincoln Ave, barn on death row in rear

Just in the past five months using two different LLCs as a cloaking device, KH Amherst PE LLC and GP Amherst LLC, You-Pan Tzeng has purchased a half dozen Amherst houses, three of them on Lincoln Avenue -- one of the oldest streets in overly Democratic Amherst, named after a Republican President before a bullet to the back of the head elevated him to sainthood.

Over the past two years at public meeting after public meeting, residents of Lincoln Avenue have brought to the attention of town officials the persistent problem with unruly party houses, usually single family homes that have been bought up by speculators, subdivided into a" two family homes" and then crammed with eight unrelated, college aged tenants (Amherst zoning legally allows four per unit).

321 Lincoln Ave

The term "tipping point" was used often, meaning the number of owner occupied units was slowly becoming the minority on this historic old street that leads directly to UMass, our largest employer.

The recent purchase of three homes on Lincoln Avenue may very well have tipped the balance ... once and for all.

328 Lincoln Avenue

While Mr. Tzeng is keeping his cards close to his chest, he has tipped his hand with the filing of a ANR plan (Approval Not Required) before our Planning Board to jury rig a second building lot in a location now occupied by a historic old barn.

Even more ominous, You-Pan Tzeng testified before our Zoning Board of Appeals when he converted a one family house at 290 West Street to a two family operation that he "uses Eagle Crest Management for all aspects of property management ..."  Yikes!

Yes, although Eagle Crest owner Jamie Cherewatti testified before the Zoning Board for one of his conversions at 156 Sunset Ave last April that he did not want to be know as the "slumlord of Amherst", it would appear he doesn't work very hard at it. 

For starters, moving his business office from 73 Main Street Amherst into space above Stackers Bar, a youthful, less-than-elegant tap room in town center Cherewatti recently purchased using one of his front LLC's.  In addition to Stackers Pub Railroad Street Partners owns another half dozen rentals in town.

Nothing like staying on top of the source of your success:  alcohol and partying. 

Now that Cherewatti has partnered with You-Pan Tzeng (or vice versa), no neighborhood in Amherst is safe.  The town needs to call a moratorium on all housing conversions until this spring, so Town Meeting can takes up Planning Board articles that attempt to tame the Wild, Wild West. 
290 Lincoln Subdivide

The rest of You-Pan Tzeng's very recent purchases:

695/697 Main Street (yes, the garage is 695)

42 Shumway Street

300 West Street


Anonymous said...

The additional lot doesn't meet the minimal requirements of residential zone: 120 ft street frontage and 20,000 sq ft. I don't see how this could possible make it through the planning department....

Anonymous said...

So as many have thrown out there "This is a college town and we knew it when we moved here". What we didn't know was it would become party central and the sewer system for UMass. It is slowly becoming reality that we will need to leave and watch the village burn as the party patrons piss on it. Unfortunately My boys are soon to go to college and I cannot afford to leave. But fear not I have a (5) year plan that includes the evacuation from Amherst. Damn it they can have the town what do I care I'm just a transplant that made a bad decision to move here (15) years ago.

Anonymous said...

Pipeline is not far behind him. Even though one of the owners posted here months ago that they check on their properties often, there are dumps that I wouldn't want my family members living in. Or next to.

Anonymous said...

You all advocate for the free market and then run for the government to protect you when you don't like the results. When a neighborhood didn't want the solar farm or the ABC Brewing Co. in their backyard you were quick to change the zoning or steam roll right over them. Now, the shoe's on the other foot. What a bunch of hypocrites.

LarryK said...

Common good vs greed. Big difference.

Amherst Anon said...

I'm with you Anon 9:15. I have a three year plan and my wife and I are out of this town for good! Living next to a previously featured Party House I can tell you the move can't come quick enough.

Anonymous said...

The Lincoln Avenue area should be viewed for the value of the land not the homes. Force the families out, then put the land area together and demolish the homes so larger units can be built. Why is the town not concerned about this situation?
Every neighborhood needs to watch for any changes in their backyards.

Anonymous said...

I've sat in meetings with so many neighboring home owners that they had to stand outside the door in hopes that one more home was not allowed to become a student rental. I've sat next to seniors, children, and concerned parents begging the zoning board to please do something. In response, the crowd received a snarky laugh from Hilda Greenbaum: "What do you expect us to do?" They approved the real estate investor's request for a two-unit student rental. A tiny little historic house crammed with bunk beds.

Their rationale? They don't make the laws. They only enforce them.

Half-a-million-dollar plus historic homes are in decay. The neighborhoods are deteriorated, noisy, littered, vandalized. Those close to the university on both sides fear riots when anything celebratory might occur. Hoards of drunk, raucous crowds walk down residential roads all night led only by the glow of their cell phone screens - tripping, squealing, screaming, puking, having sex in the bushes on their way home, tossing beer cans and cigarettes onto lawns. F-bombs cut through the sound of evening crickets. Would any family purchase that half-a-million-dollar plus home now and renovate it when they could buy a nice home in a quiet neighborhood just outside Amherst town lines?

Sadly, from what I've also observed, most Amherst residents dislike Lincoln Avenue home owners with a passion - including you, Larry. You were the first to push back heavily when residents pleaded for traffic control (which has only gotten worse following repaving). You called Lincoln residents elitists. You sat at the meeting - I was there - ensuring traffic would not be diverted from Lincoln to more appropriate outlets. Streams of vehicle traffic enter and leave UMass daily, and you did not care as these very home owners you now defend talked about the safety of their kids.

If it's not town officials against us, it's other town residents. Why would you blame us for moving? We, too, plan to sell and leave Amherst for good when financially feasible. Say goodbye to one more family-owned historic Lincoln home. We're sick and tired of fighting.

Anonymous said...

I too have the same plan as Anon. September 21, 2012 9:15 PM.

Anonymous said...

What a shame about 290 Lincoln. I took a look at it when it was for sale- it's actually a lovely house, perfect for a family. But then I looked across the street, and saw a yard strewn with plastic cups and Bud Light signs in the bedroom windows, and realized this neighborhood was not for me.

Larry Kelley said...

Perhaps, by then, the tipping point already tipped. Sad.

The Ponziville Karma Show said...

And just think, you get all this ~beauty~ in return for $19.24 per thousand.


Hey, at least the schools' administrators aint gettin' rich off yous.


(annnnnd thud)

Roach Patrol said...

September 22, 2012 6:18 AM said:

"Sadly, from what I've also observed, most Amherst residents dislike Lincoln Avenue home owners with a passion - including you, Larry. You were the first to push back heavily when residents pleaded for traffic control (which has only gotten worse following repaving)."

Awww come-eer, let Roach Patrol give you a liddle hug:

"I was interested in this comment in one of the letters:

"Thanks, Stephen, for taking on this task.
Yes, I'd be in favor of barrier on Sunset as well as Lincoln Ave. And yes, I'm in favor of
real "speed tables" and not merely bumps or cut-through cushions."

Is that Stephen Braun she's referring to... chair of the Public Works committee? And if so, isn't his involvement in this as a Lincoln Ave. resident a potential ethics violation? I thought committee members with a conflict of interest on an issue under consideration were supposed to recuse themselves from deliberations, not spearhead them, as this letter writer seems to be indicating.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah that would indeed be Stephen Braun, Chair of the Public Works Committee and Lincoln Avenue resident.

Although he does step down as Chair whenever this matter comes up (which has been all too often over the past four or five years)

Quite frankly I also have problems with Lincoln Ave resident Phil Jackson leading the charge on this fiasco when he's also on Amherst Town Meeting and an appointed member of the Amherst Finance Committee."

Feel better?

Dr. Ed said...

I will say this one more time, I do not understand why the logical solution isn't being applied -- the OWNER is responsible for all aspects of his property.

Forget arresting college kids, arrest the owner. (If you can legally arrest the tenants, you can equally legally arrest the property owner instead.) Fine the owners -- only the owners -- and let *them* chase the college kids down for the money.

If you want to put an end to this, that is how you do it. You address this the same way that other communities addressed the "crack houses" a couple decades ago, not by arresting the "crackheads" as there would always be more of them, but by going after the owner and the property itself.

Remember the "enhanced code enforcement" that the Fraternities were subjected to, which pushed their owner to sell them to UMass? Why isn't that being done here?

If you have properties that have been causing problems longer than the kids in there tonight have even been alive, why do you think any answer involves the kids temporarily there tonight????

Not that there is intelligent life in Amherst, mind you...

Anonymous said...

Folks, this is a bigger problem than just Lincoln Ave. It is our town. Every area is in trouble. Do not let old bad feelings get into the discussion. We need to ask the planning department to show a map of all the rental properties in Amherst to town meeting.

Anonymous said...

Have there been a lot of problems with the new residents on Lincoln Ave? That location is so close to the Southwest residential area of UMass that I'm sure noise isn't anything new.

Anonymous said...

I like Anon 8:23's idea. The town should try to get a grip on the problem in a wholistic way so that it can be addressed in a wholistic way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the owners hire management companies who don't give a damn about tenant behavior. And they know it. So, that is where the problem lies. The owners. Please publish owners names in LARGE LETTERS (not just a link).

Anonymous said...

"Have there been a lot of problems with the new residents on Lincoln Ave? That location is so close to the Southwest residential area of UMass that I'm sure noise isn't anything new."

Yes. You can't hear noises from dorms on Lincoln Avenue unless there is a riot. You can hear noises from the new overcrowded rentals.

A loud party was held at 328 Lincoln on Sunday September 9th. This continued beyond 8:30 PM.

A kid plays a trumpet or some sort of loud instrument outside (on the front porch?) at 327 Lincoln once or twice per week - always in the evening when it's dark out. How can one call the police when it lasts five minutes or less - but it's loud enough to wake and annoy everyone in the neighborhood.

More car alarms go off randomly in the middle of the night due to the excessive cars in the area owned by teenagers who don't know how to open or shut a door without setting the alarm off. When the kids come home in the middle of the night, the loud beep of the door locking and loud alcohol-induced talking as they go inside keeps immediate neighbors up.

Anonymous said...

While not a new rental, have you taken a look at the slum that is 334 Lincoln?

Larry Kelley said...

Not lately.

Anonymous said...

Two families abutting 334 Lincoln sold their homes and moved just in the past few months. I think that says enough.

This is a poster child for neighborhood blight.

Tom McBride said...

Larry, was the Republican party of Lincoln's day the same as the Republican party of today?