Thursday, May 30, 2013

NIMBY Backpedal

 What, no Frisbees?

UPDATED Friday morning with Cinda response to Anons

Now that the first eminent domain article failed on the floor of Amherst Town Meeting, mainly due to Finance Committee advice,  socialistic NIMBY zealots are getting a tad nervous with the other -- even more controversial -- eminent domain article, coming up for discussion Monday night.  Also unanimously opposed by our fiscal watchdogs, the Finance Committee. 

Amazingly they are trying to back away from the heavy handed use of eminent domain.  Since most red blooded Americans believe passionately in property rights (even in Amherst), they probably should have thought of that before placing the article on the warrant.

Note opening sentence


  Gerry Weiss Can we have a sane discussion about right of first refusal? I could be wrong, but I believe that when land is taken out of 61, the Town has the right of First Refusal. It's the law and it's not personal. And if my memory serves me, it's not even Town Meeting that decides on whether to buy the land, it's the Select Board in consultation with various committees and the Town Manager. So, no one can take this land against your will via the right of first refusal. As far as Town Meeting goes, again, they can't take your land. They can give authorization to the Town to commit a certain amount of money toward a purchase. That's what Town Meeting does as far as land deals goes - it is the money authorizer; the Town (Musante and the SB) has the final say on making an offer or taking by eminent domain a property. I'll bet a lot of money that the Town of Amherst will not take your land by eminent domain.
o   https://profile-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hprofile-prn2/s32x32/276026_652285582_2134046886_q.jpg
Cinda Jones There are two questions on the table, Gerry Weiss:
1) Does 2/3 of Town Meeting support Article 43?; and
2) Does the Select Board, after receiving community input and advice from the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board, want to advantage its Right of First Refusal (ROFR) under Mass. General Laws, Chapter 61?

These are two completely different questions.

(You say this is "not personal," but Save Cushman supporters have made this very personal by making groundless complaints to the Department of Environmental Protection and Amherst Conservation Commission on our logging jobs approved by the MA Department of Conservation; engaging in daily public harassment of our young forester; making anonymous public personal attacks on me; and committing vandalism at my brother's retail store.)

The Save Cushman group's Warrant Article 43 http://www.amherstma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/22485) asks if the Town will vote "to acquire from WD Cowls, Inc., or their successors by Eminent Domain, purchase, gift, or otherwise in fee simple as a conservation restriction, easement, or other interest therein..."
Regardless of what Warrant Article 43's supporters now claim they meant, Article 43 expressly authorizes the town of Amherst to take land by eminent domain against the will of the owner. If its advocates do not want that legal authority, then the eminent domain language should be stricken from Article 43.
Unlike in Article 43, under ROFR the town has the option of, within 120 days, taking over a Purchase and Sale Agreement. The purchase and sale contract being considered by the town today as a bona fide offer has an immediate $50K deposit due and a purchase price of $6.5 million, with a closing within 2 years. This contract is for purchase of the land. It’s not for a CR.
Under the ROFR the town can't do what the Warrant Article 43 asks unless it uses Eminent Domain. If the town uses its ROFR to buy the property under the contract terms, it can't say, "we want to buy a CR" (a CR is not for sale) or "we want to fund raise for a while and then buy 70% to conserve and 30% when we get that money and then on 30% we will develop something the community wants but not student housing."
In conclusion, Gerry, to answer your questions, yes the town can authorize the expenditure of $1.2 million, but the only way Save Cushman can do what they want is through a hostile Eminent Domain taking of Cowls' land. I'm not a willing seller and I will not under any circumstances sell a Conservation Restriction when I have a contract to sell the entire property for $6.5 million, providing much needed student housing in a cluster development that permanently preserves a large portion of the property.




Response from Cinda to Anons 5/30 4:47 &  3:59

Here are some facts that should help answer your questions a paraphrase as:  Would we be seeing the Retreat proposal (for a student-occupied residential subdivision in the woods) at this time if we had we passed some of the several recent Village Center zoning change proposals that would have allowed more units in existing already-built areas? 

According to the just-released Amherst Residential Market Demand Assessment Amherst’s household growth has lagged behind other Pioneer Valley towns with less than 1% growth between 2000 and 2010 but during this same time period the town’s population increased nearly 3,000 people – all college students.  The report states that “the lack of new residential development (particularly to support the increase in student population) has led to” several serious problems including neighborhood home to rental conversions and serious affordability issues.

According to the March, 2013 released Housing Production Plan for Amherst:

-        In the 50 years between 1960 and 2010 Amherst’s population grew 176% and our housing only increased 125%. 

-        59% of people living in Amherst are college students. 

-        Student competition for scarce rental units is driving up costs and making Amherst unaffordable for families, seniors, and town employees.

-        More than half of our housing units – 54% - are renter-occupied.
Way more than half of these - 3,300 of 5,400 units - are occupied by students. 

-        Amherst’s Master Plan was quoted in the Housing Production Plan, identifying as a key objective: “supporting the creation of taxable student housing that will lessen the pressures on residential neighborhoods.”  The Master Plan directs the location of such housing to existing village centers, on town water and sewer. 

People have said “UMass students should be living on UMass land.” 
Well… UMass tried to gift the town the Gateway corridor for private development of student housing on what’s now UMass property.  But we said no.

Folks have said “Cushman is the wrong place.”
But we said no to JPI building 400 units on the Hadley side of Route 116 and then “No” to the Hope Church building on land near the University and existing multi-unit rentals. 

We said “No” three times to re-zoning proposals that encouraged infill at the town’s existing village centers of Atkins Corner and North Amherst. 

Amherst is at least 10% below its housing needs.  Our recent and future growth have to go somewhere.  Where do we want it?  If we don’t decide, the market and existing conditions will.

Antidotally, I can tell you that over the past 12 years I’ve had at least a dozen student housing developers approach me looking for appropriate sites for well-managed student housing developments.  Their models were all apartment style or high rises.  There is no place in Amherst that’s not already built where we allow this. 

In October 2012 I received my first call from Landmark.  I was just getting out of my mouth “yes I know there’s huge demand and need for this housing, but there’s no place available that’s zoned appropriately in Amherst and zoning change requests prove impossible lately” - when Jason said Landmark’s model is a gated residential subdivision of cottages – that he was looking for land zoned for residential homes.  I thought “Holy cow.  Somebody finally figured out how to do it.” And the deal was made pretty quickly. 

My answer to your question is “Yes.”  Had the Village Center rezoning passed, or had we zoned some place in town appropriate for more units, and specifically some places appropriate for student housing, there would be a lot less demand for residential subdivisions in the woods. 

Demographics are changing.  Seniors (the likely fastest growing population after students) want to live in Amherst’s Village Centers where they can walk or bus to restaurants or shops.  Young folks starting out in the work force enjoy a more in-town experience too.  We can’t change the fact that more than half of all renters in Amherst are students, but allowing more units of housing in Village Centers will generate a healthy mix of seniors and professionals as well.

Until Amherst stops saying “NO” to every Town Meeting zoning change proposal that would allow more units in sensible locations, there will be development people question in locations where it’s allowed.  

Cinda


74 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not even a question, obviously the land should not and probably legally cannot be taken by eminent domain, it's not how we do things in this country. But the fact still remains that a lot of property decisions in this town - decisions that greatly affect the look, feel and behavior of our town - are in the hands of young and immature heirs (and I'm not saying Cinda is immature, and even if I was it shouldn't be viewed as a personal attack.) Cinda is hardly the only one in town who inherited a lot of property and is now doing what he she pleases with it, regardless of how the neighbors feel.

I also think it shouldn't be the case in this town that some people who make decisions that affect so many of us in Amherst should be put under the broiler and questioned and ridiculed for years on end and somehow that's ok because they get paid by the government, while others whose decisions affect as many - but who get paid by their parents - consider themselves immune and lament the "personal attacks".

Although to be fair Larry did allow one post that questioned one of our AFD members actions and maybe two posts that grilled Cinda a tiny bit, in a similar way our select board, school committee, town manager and ARPS staff, etc. have received it on here for years, and allowed us to see where that would go and how they would respond compared to the hired professionals in town. And I feel pretty certain that Larry would post almost anything I would write about Eagle Crest management!

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, I would.

Anonymous said...

Eagle Crest Management is AWESOME.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Cinda knows what is best for our- I mean, her forests; look, she's hugging a bear, for God's sake!

Paula Barrows said...

As a member of a very well known Cushman family. I shudder to think what will happen to the village I love so much if the retreat goes up. My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are rolling in their graves. It is heartbreaking for us.

Larry Kelley said...

The Amherst house I grew up in is now a rooming house, and the house next door turned into a large condo project.

But the neighborhood survived.

Anonymous said...

Hold on there pardner, this is not emimnent domain! This is the right of first refusal. The difference is that Cinda already granted the town the right to buy it if she decided to sell it. Eminent domain is when the town says that you must sell it not matter what. Big difference.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually there "pardner" it IS eminent domain (note spelling) and it's not for the 'Right of First Refusal' but for something called a "conservation restriction."

Either way, the price will be $6.5 MILLION, not the paltry $1.2 million that appears in the warrant article.

Anonymous said...

If Cinda is reading...

As a town meeting member who supported both proposals for North Amherst Village rezoning but has serious reservations about the right-mindedness of the Landmark proposal (in terms of how it fits in with the smart growth principles of the master plan) I ask you... If the past rezoning initiatives had passed, and you had been able to develop your NAVC parcels with greater, mixed-use density, would we STILL be seeing THIS particular proposal at THIS particular time?

Extremely Curious and Conflicted

Anonymous said...

anon@447:

I had the exact same question. I thought in general that the N Amherst development near Cowls was pretty good, maybe could have been massaged to be close to perfect and far more an attractive proposition all around than the current "retreat". I wonder whether Amherst shot themselves in the foot with blocking the N Amherst Village, which seemed much better aligned with the master plan.

Anonymous said...

("Save Cushman supporters have made this very personal by making groundless complaints to the Department of Environmental Protection and Amherst Conservation Commission on our logging jobs approved by the MA Department of Conservation; engaging in daily public harassment of our young forester; making anonymous public personal attacks on me; and committing vandalism at my brother's retail store.)

So, investigating concerns=making groundless complaints?
Please cite specifics regarding daily harassment of your forester. If they were anonymous, than how do you know the personal attacks were by SHC supporters? And I'm sure you must have proof that it was one of them that vandalized your brother's store, otherwise, you would be no better than those you accuse, right?
I don't know you so I won't judge you but I sure as heck don't like your plan for our town. That, I feel, would be disastrous for year-round tax-paying residents. say,

Anonymous said...

"The Amherst house I grew up in is now a rooming house, and the house next door turned into a large condo project.
But the neighborhood survived."

Yeah, and you don't live there anymore...neither does 700+ students.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder whether Amherst shot themselves in the foot with blocking the N Amherst Village, which seemed much better aligned with the master plan."
No, the voters were shot in the head by those who altered what came (by consensus) out of the cherrette and presented something much different than had been agreed upon.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I participated in the charrette and didn't think the proposal that came out of it was much different at all. The eyes of the beholder, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, opposing the Retreat by focusing on the argument of saving a historic neighborhood, the residents of Cushman have shot themselves in the foot.

Historic preservation is always a tough sell, especially since the Landmark-Retreat plan calls for no destruction of homes or other real changes to the historic elements of the village.

The stronger argument is the complete inappropriateness of the Landmark-Retreat project for that location, for these reasons:
1. It's far from the Amherst campus, too far to walk
2. It's not on major bus routes
3. It's on a narrow road (Henry Street) that cannot easily be widened.
4. The location is removed from commercial services that the residents of the Retreat would require.
5. Building a 700-bed apartment complex in the middle to a residential neighborhood makes no sense and is

Larry Kelley said...

Well if that's all true then they will not be able to rent out all the beds and they will go bankrupt.

It's called "Let the market decide."

And if they did go out of business somebody could buy it for a song and turn it into a nudist colony for frisky seniors.

Anonymous said...

The arguments given by the opponents of the Retreat are fallacious and self-serving. They keep contending, for example, that construction of a development for 700 students won't lessen the pressure in downtown neighborhoods. It will actually lessen it by almost 50% since the town will be expected to absorb 1500 off campus students in the next 7 years. They contend that Amherst needs the woodlands preserved when Amherst has an abundance of preserved public spaces.

What they are trying to do is sell the town a bill of goods for their own selfish benefit and what's even worse have others pay the bill so they keep their own refuge. This is a college town and student housing should be constructed throughout it to prevent student ghettos and maintain a decent standard of living for all.

Anonymous said...

Well if that's all true then they will not be able to rent out all the beds and they will go bankrupt. It's called "Let the market decide."

That's ridiculous, it suggests that anyone who is housed anywhere is there because it is a good housing plan. There's a housing shortage so they'll occupy what's available, that won't prove it is the best plan or location.

All the points anon made are points anyone who has taken a basic housing class would make. There is a lot of full housing in this country that does not meet the needs of it's occupants (in terms of transportation, access to retail, etc.)

That does not mean that of course the retreat won't be filled with spoiled rich kids who aren't actually paying for the housing themselves, and probably got a nice car for graduating h.s. to get to town and campus with, and likely won't have the worries that kids who pay their own tuition have. They'll fit right in in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

The obvious problems with the Cushman site is not that students won't rent there. They will, even with the inconvenience.

What it means is that the residents of the Retreat, all 700 of them, will be dependent on cars, not just to get back and forth to campus but also to get to the grocery store, to restaurants, to visit friends, to get to jobs. The impact on the entire traffic flow of Amherst will be effected.

There is certainly a need for more housing for UMass students. Building such housing in a forest on a tiny road over three miles from campus is not the way to solve this problem.

The best approach is to use sensible infill close to campus as the location of new student housing. There are plenty of available suitable options, including a couple of parcels on University Drive and on the University's land west of the stadium.

Anonymous said...

We're talking to ourselves, she's not gonna listen (with an open or a closed heart...)

Anonymous said...

The best approach is to use sensible infill close to campus as the location of new student housing. There are plenty of available suitable options, including a couple of parcels on University Drive and on the University's land west of the stadium.
GREAT IDEA...EXCE[T TOWN MEETING VOTED AGAINST RE-ZONING AN EXCELLENT PIECE OF LAND AFTER KEVIN EDDINGS SHOWED SLIDES OF SOMEONE GARDENING ON THE LAND......AND YES LET THE FREE MARKET DECIDE IF LANDMARK WILL BE ABLE TO RENT THE APARTMENTS...I SURE HOPE THE ARGUEMENT AT TOWN MEETING FOCUSES ON THE WARRENT OF EMINENT DOMAIN...AND NOT THE NIMBY'S NOT WANTING THE PROJECT....AND HEY GOOD LUCK TO MS. JONES SHE MADE A GOOD BUSINESS DEAL.....AND NO ONE SHOULD TRY AND STOP HER....

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Retreat will actually result in the much needed development of stores and restaurants in North Amherst. Maybe it will alleviate congestion in other parts of town. But other parts of town don't really concern anti-Retreaters, only their money which the anti-Retreaters have the audacity to ask for. They are stalling and obstructing for their own narrow self-interest while self righteously claiming it's for everyone's welfare.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder whether Cinda's obvious feelings that she is being persecuted are clouding or will cloud her decision making abilities.

It is worrisome when someone with so much power and influence and so much on her plate concerns herself so completely with petty and anonymous jabs. She needs to grow a thicker skin, like so many in this town have had to grow.

Larry Kelley said...

I don't think she worries in the least about Cowardly Anon Nitwits. Like you for instance.

Anonymous said...

What they are trying to do is sell the town a bill of goods for their own selfish benefit and what's even worse have others pay the bill so they keep their own refuge...

What about all the residents who don't live in Cushman who oppose the plans for a variety of reasons, none selfish? Someone should hire a pollster to find out how the people of Amherst really feel about Cinda's plan... not that it will alter her (self-serving and clouded) decision-making process, but it will likely shut up the people who say it is a NIMBY thing. Or maybe it won't shut them up but the reasonable people who are listening will know the truth.

There's a lot of "not listening" to each other going on.

Anonymous said...

One can oppose the plan all they want, but if the land is zoned correctly, and no zoning laws, or other laws are being broken, sorry nothing you can do. I am not a lawyer, but I think everything is "on the up and up" and iI, for one do not want my tax money fighting a no win case in court. You might not like it but nothing in terms of zoning or laws are being broken, so we must live with it. And by the way, the project will bring in much needed tax revenue, provide construction jobs,and other jobs. Nothing wrong with that. And by the way the university, which some or most of you make your living off of is NOT GOING AWAY

Anonymous said...

Can hardly wait for the 7-11 and Cumbys to be built right next to Cushman store. Maybe even a new liquormart and such.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, I'm not a lawyer either, and there's nothing we can do about, say, certain completely on the up and up, irreversible decisions the Select Board has made, as well... regardless, we're gonna come on here every day and bitch about what we don't like and demonize the decision makers. And if we really oppose an "on the up and up" decision someone has made we may bitch about it for - literally - years.

If comments weren't allowed, or even if just anonymous comments weren't allowed, on Larry's blog, hardly any of us would look here, so thanks for your contribution, fellow non-lawyer!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of sculptures that aren't worth the asking price...

Can we compromise? If we lay off plans for the retreat, will the developers promise that the first thing they will do when they arrive with their bucket loaders is bury that awful sculpture on the common across from the market?

Anonymous said...

No "young professionals" are gonna be looking to live in Amherst Center for an "in-town" experience; what an out of touch idea.

Our recent and future growth have to go somewhere. Where do we want it? If we don’t decide, the market and existing conditions will.

Oh, may we? I'd like to see growth that focuses on appropriate location, like the low rise next to the parking "garage".

Giving up a huge swath of forest miles from campus, because you've got it and they want it, is the least creative approach I can think of. Regardless of whether one person with no background in housing issues thinks "Holy Cow, these folks have really figured out how to do this!"

And it does sound a little like, "See? You didn't do what i wanted the first time, now look what I'm giving you!" as opposed to "Wow, why didn't somebody think of this type of housing development at some point in past history?"

Trimegistus said...

Why doesn't the town of Amherst quit meddling with what people can do with their property? Let development follow demand, instead of trying to make the town into some kind of New England College Town theme park?

Anonymous said...

What difference does it make to the landowner who buys the land, as long as it gets a good price? State law gives Amherst the right of first refusal.

Any landowner who gets the tax reduction by putting their property into Chapter 61 status, so there is no surprise here.

The question is does the town want the land? What the price and how will the town pay for it?

Anonymous said...

The town desperately needs a survey of the people living in the neighborhoods of projects that were furiously fought over, with dire predictions about traffic, etc., say at least two years after the projects were completed. I suspect the NIMBYs will have settled down, become accustomed to the new situation, and be going about their lives as before the project. I suspect they will have now complaints about the change in traffic patterns and no complaints about their new neighbors. But we need to know the facts.

Anonymous said...

Cinda, it seems to me your message is that we didn't give you what you wanted in North Amherst so now you are going to cut down the woods to spite us. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic that Retreat supporters say that building the Retreat will lessen the impact of student rental houses in residential neighborhoods.

Actually, it will do just the opposite.

The demand for student housing is so high that the downtown neighborhoods (Lincoln Ave, Sunset, etc.) will still be full to capacity with student renters and will still be attractive to landlords eager to reap student rental dollars.

That won't change.

But at the same time, the residential neighborhood of Cushman will be destroyed. No one who has a choice will want to stay living in a single-family house in the vicinity of the behemoth Retreat. These houses will go on the market as the owners see their quality of life and property values plummet. Landlords will snap them up and rent them to as many students as they can legally, or illegally, cram in.

So the real price of building the Retreat will actually be the destruction, not the preservation, of a traditional Amherst residential neighborhood. The real price will be the creation of yet another neighborhood with absentee landlords renting out poorly-maintained and overpriced property to students.

Anonymous said...

You can always tell the people who haven't lived here very long. Mostly all the multiple housing ever built in this town was for some form of student related housing. The problems really start when they become subsidized low-income housing. Look around, ask the police, that's when the crime starts. South Amherst has it's own little ghetto supported by subsidized housing, AKA The Boulders. Now is not when this will create problems, but 20 years from now it will.

Anonymous said...

That is an unbelievably specious argument. If there is no large scale development, the downtown neighborhood's are under threat of disappearing altogether as mixed neighborhood and, at four students, per conversion, still wouldnt dent the demand for student housing. At least be honest.

Even with the Retreat, Cushman will remain as an intact neighborhood. Yes, there would be more traffic but the Huns are not at the door.

Anonymous said...

For those of us regretful about not passing Village Center zoning at the last couple town meetings, we have an opportunity to make a tiny step forward with Articles 31, 32, 33. These make incremental changes that will encourage some finite infill within the existing B-L and COM zones. Roofs won't have to be flat or have expensive dormers to meet height potential; up to 40% of first floors can be residentially incidental rather then the impossible 10% today; unit counts aren't by acre but by building size so enormous 4 bedroom units with party space won't be the norm - there will be no penalty for 1 and 2 bedroom units. Check them out. Vote for units in the right place. Vote yes on Articles 31, 32, 33.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Larry, for offering this forum for communication and thanks Cinda for responding. I totally agree with your analysis of the "NO" mentality and how it is influencing what were faced with today. I've been in favor of all the dense housing proposals you noted that were in more sensible, master plan compatible locations but, unfortunately, zoning requires 2/3 approval and enough of "the only good change is no change" people manage to populate town meeting that even sensible proposals are doomed to fail. And so, in the absence of being able to manage change on our own, change happens to us--encroachment of student housing in long established family neighborhoods, the loss of affordable units like Echo Village to profit mongering landlords with a large tenant pool to choose from, and poorly situated developments like Landmark that are "by right", no matter how fundamentally "wrong". Ironically, by continuing to say "No" to that which we're afraid of, we're only getting more of it, and in areas that are least well situated for it.

Anonymous said...

Larry Kelley said...
The Amherst house I grew up in is now a rooming house, and the house next door turned into a large condo project.


Awesome and appropriate location: on the public transportation route, near commercial, near school, utilized available building stock, all utilities in place already, etc.

Anonymous said...

Is the planning dept putting together the transfer of development rights program called for in the master plan? If Amherst had a TDR plan, the development rights on the Retreal land could be sold to buy greater density in housing in village centers.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me why "Historic" Cushman feels itself to be exempt from student housing when the rest of the town isn't? The only argument they present that holds up is that they just don't want their little slice of paradise to be tampered with in anyway. This morning in the Gazette, one letter writer Actually expressed his indignation that he would hear students on his abutting 9 plus acre property! How much space do you need as a buffer?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:00 PM...

As Larry often states, two (or a dozen+ wrongs) don't make a right.
He also has stated that everyone has a right to protect their property and, I would add, the quality of life they chose.
Are you familiar with Cushman? Cinda's land is uphill. Given that several years ago we could hear on Market Hill the the coon-hound on Flat Hills, I'm guessing the light and noise pollution (check-out the Landmark Retreat sites) would certainly impact mine.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:00 pm

Yes, you have a right to protect your lifestyle but, as someone who lives in a downtown neighborhood, I find it annoying when anti-Retreaters talk about where I live in such a cavalier way. Such as student housing should all be there or that the construction of the Retreat won't lessen demand for student housing here. Fine, protect your lifestyle but dont ask me or others to pay for it. Pay for it yourself.

Anonymous said...

I saw three "Stop The Retreat" signs today... in HADLEY.

This is NOT a NIMBY issue, the breadth and number of people who oppose this project is actually quite impressive.

No one talks about downtown neighborhoods cavalierly; downtown is appropriate for the public, transportation, proximity to commercial zones, proximity to schools, proximity to emergency services, existing building stock could be utilized...

People who live downtown chose to, and if you want something more bucolic move there, and if you can't afford to, well, that's what gives people in this country the incentive to educate themselves better and work harder or take measured risks in business. The people in Cushman chose the more bucolic setting and obviously could afford to, a long time ago.

And students DO live in Cushman already, just not in a dense environment that promotes the kind of teen and young adult activity that we've seen exposed on this blog for years.

Anonymous said...

I would contend that it's the NIMBY's in Amherst Woods that consider themselves exempt... and maybe they ought to be, they obviously CHOSE a quiet rural setting for a reason, and they could afford to, many even with money they earned themselves...and isn't that how the system is supposed to work?

If you want to exempt yourself from dense, downtown living environments, there are ways, if you work really hard and earn a lot of money... (or if your mom and dad or grandparents or great, great grandparents had the savvy and passed the spoils along to you. It's not as fulfilling that way, but it's on the "up and up".)

Many who have worked their whole lives for their "little slice of heaven" in Cushman hope to pass what they earned on to their kids and grand-kids...

find your slice of heaven and stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:13 PM...
And I would ask that you not generalize ... all those against the Retreat do not think student housing should all be downtown. As a matter of fact, the majority of us think there should not be a Retreat or anymore student housing anywhere off-campus.
And why is it that your opinion about whether or not it will lessen demand trumps mine? I've done some research the results of which which supports my opinion that it won't.
Agree that we have the right to disagree=democracy.
By the way, remember your theory about "payment"?
Re-opening the WM pool, spending money on another study like the one for Kendrick Park, having the highest cost per public school student and so on, had nothing to do with MY lifestyle.
However, under the American form of government we often do for the greater good and I personally think Amherst has done enough to house UMass student off-campus.
Note: Amherst is #1 in the nation regarding (off-campus) student population outnumbering year-round residents.

Anonymous said...

I have found my slice of heaven which I and others like me are trying to preserve, only I am not asking you to pay for it as you are if me. You are the one who is complaining. Dont live in a college town if you want a bucolic setting or put up and shut up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:55

Unless you are personal friends with the governor or chancellor or whoever runs the show at UMass, the university will keep expanding and Amherst will be forced to house their overflow. I have no problem contributing to a pool and school system I don't use, but to be asked to finance something which benefits a small handful of people who simply want to preserve their bucolic lifestyle is beyond the pale, especially since that lifestyle isn't, in fact, threatened. You want to raise the $6.5 million yourselves, God go with you. But don't ask me to contribute to my own destruction and say it isn't so. And thankfully, yes, we do live in democracy which is why I predict 43 will thankfully be defeated.

Anonymous said...

...only I am not asking you to pay for it as you are if me.

I'm actually not, I'm hoping Cinda will read the tea leaves and realize how much this project is opposed by so many, and come to see how it will affect so many that have worked hard to buy a home and life in a quiet rural neighborhood, and come to her senses and not sell it to these people from Georgia who know nothing about our culture.

I don't expect she will as I have really come to believe she does not care what anyone else in Amherst thinks or feels about the quality of life they have worked hard for, excepting those who agree with her.

If proximity to the University is not an issue, then there is land in Sunderland, Hadley, Shutesbury, Pelham... Is there some reason this spot is perfect in the eyes of Landmark Development? They have deep pockets, there are other locations they could have or can consider, maybe even near utilities, amenities etc. that make a housing development sustainable.

Anonymous said...

I too hope 43 will be defeated but that does not mean I support the proposed development. It's not so simple as you either support eminent domain taking of the land or you support The Retreat.

It is likely either Cowls or Jones or Landmark operatives objecting to the opposers concerns here on Larry's blog anyway.

The sheer number of STR signs in Amherst and surrounding towns tells me WAY more oppose the project than support it. I have yet to see a "Bring On The Retreat" sign; perhaps supporters of the ill project would like to have some printed up and distribute them to their cohorts.

Larry Kelley said...

Oh, I think if you looked at any "development " built in the last 50 years, not a angle one was welcomed with open arms.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:37

Wishful thinking. Many more are opposed to 43 than one would think. They simply aren't speaking up because they don't want to cause ill feeling. I am not an operative for anyone, just frustrated and frankly offended by some of the torturous arguments I have read and heard. Just a few postings ago I was accused of not working hard enough to be able to afford to live In Cushman because I chose to live close to town. Like that has anything to do with any of this.

If you are looking for someone to blame, I don't think it should be Cinda Jones, whom I have never met. Sounds to me she has been unable to develop any of her other holdings in town. It would be highly irresponsible to her own family and interests not to exploit the one property that can't be obstructed.

If you want to blame someone, blame the tyranny of the minority. The obstructionists who oppose everything, not in principle, mind you, but in the details. Only that's all hogwash. I like and have worked with many of them on other town issues, but I know for a fact that they think they oppose everything forever. They have become emboldened by their success and, as a result, have, in my view, put this whole town at risk. They employ magical thinking -- that if they wish hard enough they can make it so -- only they can't. It is inexplicable to me.

Anonymous said...

Larry said: "Oh, I think if you looked at any "development " built in the last 50 years, not a angle one was welcomed with open arms."

So, its tradition. We haven't actually become selfish or addle brained. We might actually not be unlike how we've bee all along. Welcome to my Town - the Town that dared to...

Anonymous said...

"Dont live in a college town if you want a bucolic setting or put up and shut up."

Seriously?!
Do your homework...does the term Book and Plow mean anything to you newbie?

And, again, I remind you that many of us who want a bucolic setting pay taxes just like those who don't.

Why don't you just put us in an old folks home and forget abut us.

Anonymous said...

"If you want to blame someone, blame the tyranny of the minority."

Since a minority cannot be those who won a vote by a majority or even a 2/3, I'm assuming the minority you speak of "emboldened by their success and, as a result, have, in my view, put this whole town at risk" are those responsible for the rapid decline of Amherst as a viable community because they (even admitted by the SB chair at TM recently) weren't doing their job and looking far enough ahead.

"They employ magical thinking -- that if they wish hard enough they can make it so -- only they can't. It is inexplicable to me."
So, if that doesn't work, than what's your point?

Anonymous said...

Just tossing back the argument that is used over and over against the downtown neighborhoods, oldie. 200 years Greenwich Village was a bucolic village too. It isn't now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:08 PM

Geez, 200 years? You equate being older with some history and a different perspective, as being THAT old?
Maybe your day will come.

(Perhaps you should instead just put us on a reservation).

Anonymous said...

A bunch of obscure, meaningless posts, intended to confound readers, written by people who want the retreat to be built for monetary reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1125

Don't know how you have interpreted this to be about age. I am an AARP member myself. What I am saying is things change.

Anon 1104

My point is that it requires a 2/3's vote in TM to approve zoning changes which would permit direly needed large scale student housing projects. 1/3 of TM votes everything proposed down saying they want more studies if this or they dont like the details of that, thereby putting severe stress on neighborhoods and structures unequipped and in appropriate for student housing. In my view, this 1/3 is, in fact, acting in bad faith because they would reject whatever is put forward.

Anonymous said...

Yes, monetary reasons. Last I checked we lived in a capitalistic society. And their reasons are no different than the anti-Retreaters supposedly lofty ones - which boils down, understandably, to self-interest.

The point is that no location is ideal and that the more appropriate places for development were voted down by a minority acting in bad faith. Blame them, not Landmark, not Cinda Jones.

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a way to offer the two possibilities to TM and the Amherst Community- (1) the Retreat or (2) the N. Amherst Cowls development project. I know which one I think is more appropriate to the Village center idea. The idea that Cushman is a village center is a joke (all it has is the Cushman cafe). The Cowls location is so much more reasonable an option. What say you, Cinda?

Dr. Ed said...

The problems really start when they become subsidized low-income housing. Look around, ask the police, that's when the crime starts. South Amherst has it's own little ghetto supported by subsidized housing, AKA The Boulders.

I agree, and Southpoint (aka "Gunpoint") is actually worse -- but it is the town's own fault for letting it become this way.

One of the reasons I am so upset when people refer to UMass students as the problem in Amherst is that it simply isn't true. The worst an officer in North Amherst is going to have to deal with is getting hit with a thrown beer bottle and a trip to the hospital -- in South Amherst the officer is far more worried about armed drug dealers who wouldn't hesitate to kill him.

Southpoint is "owned" by MS13, Boulders is "owned" by the Latin Kings, and Mill Valley is "owned" by La Familia. I lost count of the number of sawed-off shotguns recovered down there -- and consider it more dangerous than any Boston neighborhood.

I argue that it's not racist to identify facts as facts -- and just because someone doing criminal things is Black or Hispanic shouldn't be an excuse against being held accountable for the same. But in Amherst it is, and that is what led to this happening.

You also need to have a candid conversation with any APD officer about how few police officers there are on duty at night -- and even if the entire APD, UMPD, Hadley PD and Hamp MSP troopers responded, how long it would take them to get there and how few there would be.

And how it well could be for a situation where they really needed a SWAT team.

The Town of Amherst and the AHA let this situation become created -- HUD regs explicitly prohibit the concentration of Section 8 vouchers in the same census track -- yet that was done. Code wasn't enforced, the line should have been drawn with Brittany Manor and the broken beer bottles in the swimming pool back in '91 or so.

HUD understands drugs -- and if the town had leaned on the AHA the way it leaned in UMASS, if it had demanded that the single mothers be held accountable for their boyfriends who allegedly "don't live there" even though the APD repeatedly arrests them there, if they had revoked a few vouchers and the rest, this would have reigned a lot of this in.

Things could have been done. Maybe things still can be -- but the town has to want to do them. No one does.

Anonymous said...

"You also need to have a candid conversation with any APD officer about how few police officers there are on duty at night."

Maybe they'd admit that of the 45+ officers only 22 them are regulary assigned (dispatched to calls) to cover shifts 24/7. The rest are Capts, Lts, Sgts, Dectectives and others with "special duties"- many of whom work 8-5/M-F.
The department does indeed have its hands full but, like the Town Hall and School Department, is top heavy.
Given the need and economic issues perhaps the department should get back to just doing hands-on police work. Downsize the Command staff, patrol 'all' the streets slowly or at at the speed limit and leave the touchy-feely Community programs to others.

Anonymous said...

I find Cinda's language interesting in her response to anons.

Until Amherst stops saying “NO” to every Town Meeting zoning change proposal that would allow more units in sensible (my emphasis) locations, there will be development people question in locations where it’s allowed.

She appears to recognize that the planned Retreat location is not a sensible one, nevertheless "allowed".

Am I reading that wrong? I am beginning to agree with those who are saying the sale of this property to Landmark is spiteful, a nuclear weapon against the taxpaying landowning reidents of Amherst.

The second half of that sentence is poorly communicated (perhaps her auto-correct altered what she was trying to say) so maybe that is not what she intended to say at all.

Larry Kelley said...

I think $6.5 million dollars has something to do with it.

Way more so than being "spiteful"

Anonymous said...

Ed said: The worst an officer in North Amherst is going to have to deal with is getting hit with a thrown beer bottle and a trip to the hospital -- in South Amherst the officer is far more worried about armed drug dealers who wouldn't hesitate to kill him.

I disagree. When drugs are being dealt, wherever it is, it attracts guns, and it's not just the dealer who is armed. What I'm thinking of is a) several incidents of people bringing guns into the towers in Southwest and stealing drugs from student dealers, and also b)places where they legally sell drugs like oxycontin (Walgreens, CVS) where addicts go and commit armed robbery. I would guess there's a lot more drugs, and all kinds, being sold in the dorms than anywhere in S. Amherst (if the dorms are at all like what they were like when I went to college.)

And it would be difficult to convince me that there's not a real good chance that there are drugs being dealt out of student apartments in N. Amherst. And so there's a good chance that there will be one or two of the seven hundred at The Retreat (to get back on topic) who will be more than happy to be the supplier for the percentage who will live there and partake in illegal drug use--thus creating a dangerous environment like in the dorms and pharmacies.

Ed, it's not just poor inhabitants of low-income housing that create a dangerous culture of drug dealing, it is simply that they are more exposed, more easily exploited, and more likely to be stereotyped in such a way.

Dr. Ed said...

Ed, it's not just poor inhabitants of low-income housing that create a dangerous culture of drug dealing, it is simply that they are more exposed, more easily exploited, and more likely to be stereotyped in such a way.

This is what I mean by saying that Amherst created the problem of South Amherst -- and there are a lot of low-income tenants dYwn there who want no part of the drug dealing culture -- which sometimes approaches that of an "open air market."

Yes, there was one individual involved in multiple armed robberies of drug stores, but he was quickly apprehended. Have there been any other ones?

Yes, there once was a lot of drugs dealt in the UM dorms -- they even made a movie about it (Blow -- but there also used to be outdoor keg parties with so much beer spilt that the "mudslides" originally were "beerslides."

There also was a time when the dorms were being run by a man so socially conservative that some might remember his opposition to the distribution of condoms in the high school. That was then, this is now...

I will be the first to concede the race/class issue to the drug trade -- the demographic difference between those who sell the drugs and those who purchase them. Fine, let's approach this the way we do prostitution, go after the users and dry up the customer base -- which we aren't willing to do.

We could even eliminate our drug problem the way the ChiComs did shortly after the Communists came to power -- and I hope/pray that we never do. And yes it is a national scandal that the average Black male highschool GRADUATE has the reading/writing ability of hte average 7th grade white girl -- but it isn't like we aren't spending moneu for K-12 education.

But the drugs are distributed through the network of live-in boyfriends residing in the Sect 8 apartments of single mothers.

Anonymous said...

Ed, do you remember a few years back when pharmacies nationwide put up large signs in their windows that said "We Do Not Sell Oxycontin"? It was because there was a nationwide epidemic of pharmacies being held up at gunpoint on a regular basis.

Dr. Ed said...

pharmacies nationwide put up large signs in their windows that said "We Do Not Sell Oxycontin"? It was because there was a nationwide epidemic of pharmacies being held up at gunpoint on a regular basis.

"[O]n a regular basis"?!?!?

Bullshite! Like the Oklahoma tornadoes, these armed robberies were newsworthy only because they weren't happening on a regular basis -- they were shocking outliers.

Also, the signs were at least supposed to say that the pharmacy did not STOCK Oxycontin -- that they would sell it, but that you would have to come back the next day to pick it up as they would have to go get it.

Or in at least one case, that the prescription would be filled from the chain's regional warehouse and that they would instead deliver it to you later that afternoon or the next morning.

(A licensed pharmacy is required to sell every licensed drug -- this is why WalMart had to sell the abortion pill even though they didn't want to.)

Yes, there were a few armed robberies -- there have been a few of banks too -- but if this had been happening on "a regular basis", they would have had armed police if not metal detectors and the rest. But the pharmacies didn't want to stock Oxy for three completely unrelated reasons.

First, it is a Schedule II drug which meant an awful lot of additional paperwork -- they had to keep counting the inventory to ensure that none had disappeared, they were worried about employee theft as the value of each pill on the illicit market became more widely known, and all of this for a drug that may expire before anyone ever purchased it -- they would have to "eat" all of this expense as well as the wholesale price of the drug they have now discarded, and these are people in business to make (not loose) money.

Second, Loss Prevention people tend to go overboard with some frequency. (Remember the prohibition of throwing candy from parade floats, notice how diving boards have disappeared from public pools?) Yes, the pharmacies were reducing their exposure to armed robber -- but they also were reducing their exposure to employee theft.

The big pharmacies had a realistic concern that an employee might "divert" the Oxy -- much like a UMass employee did a few years back, in that case substituting Advil for Adderall and being caught by a student who realized he had the wrong drug and took it back. And how many stories have we heard about seized drugs disappearing out of secure police evidence rooms?

Third, the problem was not theft as much as prescription fraud. The pharmacies wanted to be able to call the physician and verify that he/she/it had actually written an Oxy script -- and for this person. If someone else was picking it up, they wanted to be able to call the actual patient and verify this. Et cetera.

And what were the pharmacy staff to do if they knew it was a fraudulent prescription and/or the person was someone on their BOLO list? It is a whole lot safer to promise to have the drug ready the next day and instead have the police ready -- to let them plan how to deal with this so that no one gets hurt.

Yes, it was implied that this was because of armed robberies -- but there really weren't a lot of those, like there really aren't a lot of people being killed in the Oklahoma tornadoes -- although having a news media hysterically reporting them makes one almost think that the only people still alive in Oklahoma are hiding well below ground in old Cold War bomb shelters, while yet another deadly tornado passes directly overhead every 5-10 minutes.

Bet you didn't know that more children were murdered (with guns) in Chicago last year than in Newtown, CT.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Meds.....

Anonymous said...

Oh My God! What a Blowhard! I honestly don't think I can take anymore of his tripe!

Dr. Ed said...

Speaking of Meds...

Speaking of ED/OCR and "Hostile Environment"....

Anonymous said...

"dr. ed said...
Speaking of Meds...

Speaking of ED/OCR and "Hostile Environment"...."

I'm not seeing the relevance of your response "Doc."