Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Town Meeting Clean Sweep

Amherst Planning Board

The Amherst Planning Board hit a grand slam home run this evening as all of their zoning articles passed Town Meeting by over a two-thirds vote, despite the usual gloom and doom concerns about "student housing".

Since the state considers medical marijuana  a "protected use" it's coming to Amherst one way or the other, but with the passing of Article 13 the town has some say in where and how it develops.

Surprisingly Article 14, making it easier to construct a duplex as long as one side is permanently "affordable", came the closest to failing.  Once again the spectre of student housing was the concern, since the duplex does not have to be "owner occupied." 

Not like a profit minded developer is going to construct a brand new house with one side forever "affordable" and the other side rented out to party animals who add wear and tear like a herd of buffaloes.

 Standing vote to "call the question" to end debate

Article 15 would make it slightly easier to construct dorm-like housing on six lots (three on North Pleasant Street and three on Olympia Drive) very near the #1 provider of housing customers, UMass.  After a Tally Vote the article passed handily 112-51.

Article 16 simply clarified whether it was the Planning Board or Zoning Board who had jurisdiction in issuing modest waivers on dimensional requirements.

Articles 17 and 18 were technical fixes, mostly semantic, requested by the Building Commissioner to set in stone practices that previous Commissioners have used for over 25 years.

North Amherst resident Melissa Perot spoke for five minutes from the podium against Article 18 and the next speaker from the floor was her husband who branded it "spot zoning".

They failed miserably to convince Town Meeting.  Which set the stage for an even bigger failure as Article 19, also the handiwork of Melissa Perot, would undo parts of Article 18 that just passed overwhelmingly.

And by that same massive margin her tilting at windmills article went down to defeat.

#20, the final article, was the typical feel good Amherst kind of statement:  Divestment of funds in fossil fuels.  Over the Finance Committee's 6-0 objection (even though the resolution is non binding) Town Meeting overwhelmingly passed the Al Gore inspired article.

And then everyone hastened to their cars. 


Dr. Ed said...

Not like a profit minded developer is going to construct a brand new house with one side forever "affordable" and the other side rented out to party animals who add wear and tear like a herd of buffaloes


I think you will find that the damage on the "affordable" side will tend to equal that on the side rented out to students. (It more than likely will exceed it.)

Anonymous said...

Remember, don't feed Ed's head. ignore his drivel, ignore him.

Kevin said...

Thank you, Larry

Anonymous said...

Article 20 defines Amherst to a tee. It is also what makes the town the laughing stock of so many other communities around it.

To ask staff to divest in things that support fossil fuel is just a waste of time. Where to start seems simple but where do you stop?? How many resources should we use up to fund both the initial search and removal of of these items. How much money has to be spent maintaining that we don't support it in the future.

What if those investments are the best ones to fund future retirees. What if we come up short year after year financially for this decision. Will the retirees take less money to show their support?

While there are a few in town meeting who actually put their actions where their mouths are and ride bikes everywhere, most do not. If Amherst believed half of what it claims to there would be solar and wind farms all over town. We would have a network of bike paths, an electric car sharing network charged by solar or wind, a bio-diesel filling station, etc.

So Amherst stop wasting everyone's time on non binding stupid articles like this one and just get in your cars and drive home. At least you will save electricity by turning the middle school lights off a little yearly

Anonymous said...

I did chuckle a bit as we all left Town Meeting last night feeling good about ourselves and then proceeded, one by one, to get in our fossil fuel chugging vehicles to head home to our warm, fossil fuel fed homes.

Larry Kelley said...

I don't know about Alice, but her husband Art was quite the commuter cyclist.

Tom McBride said...

Article 14 was about the first positive news about housing we've heard in decades. It's not much of a change, but it's a start. Twenty years from now zoning and development will be much looser and people will be saying, why didn't we do this twenty years ago?, in all the communities?

Kevin said...

Here you go, Larry, Letter to the Editor, sent today.

Pass it on, please.

Tom McBride said...

As for the comment, I completely agree with two things, that zoning language is very complex, and the whole rest of the letter to the editor.

Kevin said...

Letter to the editor, SECOND DRAFT, much clearer, enjoy --

I am, perhaps, one of the few people who can appreciate what Ms. Perot did, and what an act of courage it was. And I respect the institution of democracy, everyone gets a say. Where else but in Amherst? Right, Larry?

And, while it seems futile, they got what they wanted and Amherst zoning is stalled.

But they won't be alive to see the result, what do they care?