Atkins Water Treatment Plant, Market Hill Road, Historic Cushman neighborhood
The YouTube video NIMBYs published trying to rally the masses against a private land deal in northeast Amherst is loaded with misinformation.
If they were a business and Amherst Town Meeting does follow their suggestion to steal property development rights via heavy handed eminent domain taking, they would be easy pickings for a lawsuit under Mass General Law 93A (Consumer Protection) for false advertising, which allows for triple damages.
That of course would be on top of the $6.5 million total Amherst would eventually have to come up with to fulfill the "highest and best use" reimbursement provision for a hostile land taking.
Amherst, the #4 property owner in town, already owns or permanently protects 27% of its land mass. And when you factor in the other BIG THREE tax exempt landowners -- Amherst College, UMass and Hampshire College respectively -- a little over 50% of all land in town is tax exempt.
Cowls 154 acre tree farm off Henry Street is hardly "North Amherst's last remaining contiguous woodland." In fact, Cowls owns 600 acres of forest in North Amherst and this particular tract has the least desirable ranking on the town's master list for land to be conserved.
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Salamander Tunnels only "priority area" in the entire parcel
Yes the Salamander Crossing is a beloved icon, a symbol of the town's respect for conservation and saving critters both great and small. Which is exactly why Landmark Properties has promised to protect the crossing and move the main entry way for the development away from Henry Street over to Market Hill Road, where the non-historic Water Treatment Plant sits on the side a a rocky outcropping.
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Landmark Properties handout for Town Meeting
Cowls sold that land to the town for the treatment plant and as part of the deal the town installed infrastructure for a future development exactly like "The Retreat."
Perhaps the biggest mistruth is the absurd assertion that the development "Will threaten the Atkins Reservoir." The land has town water/sewer! Unlike a lot of the houses on Flat Hills Road and Shutesbury Road that have sprouted "Stop The Retreat" red signs like worms on a lawn after a summer drizzle.
Chairman Mao, err, I mean the narrator asks, "Shouldn’t all in Amherst be involved in deciding how to use this land?" Well, no. It's private land and this is not the People's Republic of China.
So no, No, NO! You do not have a right to be "involved," if that involvement means stealing the property by eminent domain.