Speed limit sign ignored by 80% of drivers
At the "scenic road hearing" last night -- a joint meeting between the Amherst Planning Board and Tree Warden Alan Snow -- the fate of ten trees located near the crest of a hill at 666 South East Street was finally decided. Sort of.
The Planning Board voted 5-2-2 to allow removal of the trees so the owners can put in a new driveway 60 feet north of the plateau, but they must allow the old driveway to return to its natural state.
In what PB Chair David Webber described as "compelling testimony" Amherst Fire Department Assistant Chief Don McKay confirmed the new driveway location would not impede emergency vehicle access.
The public safety expert disclosed, however, an ambulance or firetruck would still need to stage on South East Street; and where the driveway is currently located sets up a recipe for disaster from cars coming over the hill at an average speed of 40 mph.
He also pointed out after completing the site visit he was nearly clobbered trying to pull out of the current driveway by a car speeding over the hill.
Planning Board member Stephen Schreiber, addressing the "public safety" issue stated: "I bike by there all the time. It's not a danger to cyclists or pedestrians; but yes, it is a danger to you or friends and family entering or exiting." Owner Christopher Benfey responded, "That is a brutal calculation."
The Planning Board also "recommended" to the Tree Warden -- who has the final say -- a 50% reduction in replacement cost fees assessed for taking down healthy trees in the public way. At $90 per inch, that originally (for ten trees) came to $11,475.
But the Tree Warden, who voted "No" (making the overall vote 5-3-2), pointed out he already compromised by taking three trees out of the equation -- one which he agreed could be taken down the other two should be able to survive.
Tree Warden Alan Snow
This morning Mr. Snow confirmed that he has not changed his mind, and the homeowners will be assessed the replacement costs for seven trees, or just over $6,000.
Too bad our mothers were right: "Money doesn't grow on trees."