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.