Amherst Conservation Commission
The Amherst Conservation Commission hiked down the same path as the Planning Board did last week by voting unanimously NOT to recommend the Amherst Select Board exercise Right Of First Refusal on 154 acres of upland woodland in northeast Amherst.
The property, owned by the state's largest private landowner W.D. Cowls, Inc, is currently under a $6.5 million contract to Georgia developer Landmark Properties, who specialize in cottage style student housing with high end amenities.
The gated community planned for Amherst, The Retreat, will house 700 students and it has stirred bitter neighborhood opposition since day one.
About two dozen residents showed up last week to the Planning Board hearing hoping to convince the board to recommend the town invoke the expensive taking. Tonight 21 concerned citizens showed up and the committee allowed an hour for public comment.
Dave Ziomek, Director of Conservation and Development (and Assistant Town Manager): "Daunting price tag for an unremarkable property."
Then, after a brief 25 minute discussion the board came to its unanimous recommendation NOT to purchase the property, but were also clear about not supporting the proposed development because of potential environmental impacts.
The Select Board has the final authority and will make their decision Monday night (July 29). The funding would also require a two-thirds vote of Amherst Town Meeting who already overwhelmingly voted down a scheme to take the "development rights" of the property for $1.2 million.
The chance the SB will ignore the unanimous advice of the Planning Board and Conservation Committee is about as likely as an asteroid taking out town center one of these hot summer nights.