Stephanie O'Keeffe, Select Board Chair and strong proponent of Rental Permit Bylaw
While it was unseasonably hot outside the Amherst Regional Middle School, the auditorium where Amherst Town Meeting convenes was even hotter as the issue of the decade, perhaps a generation, Rental Registration Property Bylaw (permit system) came to a final head.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, sounding like a clear two thirds majority. So decisive in fact that no one thought to call for a Tally Vote, since the measure only required a simply majority.
With unanimous support of the Planning Board, Finance Committee, Select Board and Town Manager and more than a majority of speakers who addressed the issue from the floor, the discussion carried on for just over two hours. A motion to refer back to the Select Board made by Town Meeting member and landlord Richard Gold failed miserably.
Landlord, lawyer and town officials wait in front row for possible call to speak
Another motion offered by Coalition of Amherst Neighborhoods to exempt owner occupied units from the new regulation also failed by a tally vote of 116-74.
Speakers against the ordinance cited costs ($100/year), constitutional issues (unreasonable search by town inspectors), and suggested Amherst is already known state wide for being over regulated.
But common sense won the day, by a very wide margin. Not something you see all that often on the floor of Amherst Town Meeting.
Now of course, the lawsuits begin.