Monday, December 2, 2013

Planning For The Retreat

 About 50 people attended tonight's Select Board hearing on The Retreat

After over two hours of public discussion the Amherst Select Board took no official vote this evening on a recommendation to the Planning Board concerning The Retreat, a "Cluster Subdivision" in Northeast Amherst consisting of 123 lots holding 175 housing units with a total of 641 beds. All of them rented to students.

Neighbors once again packed the Town Room and speaker after speaker brought up a litany of complaints over parking, noise, "unsafe" private roads, and the overall impact of forever changing the character of a historic neighborhood, Cushman.

Even Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe acknowledged that if the roads in the development are private rather than town accepted public roads, the Amherst police department could not enforce "open container" laws.  And to that Ms. O'Keeffe admitted, "I'm disappointed."

Although she was quick to point out "noise" bylaws could be enforced on the private property.

The Select Board took note of all the complaints and Ms. O'Keeffe will prepare and present a statement to the Planning Board at their Public Hearing on Wednesday night, where no doubt the same crowd will show up to once again voice their disapproval of the student housing project.

Early in the discussion O'Keeffe summed up what tonight's SB meeting was really all about:

"What we’re really doing is sending a message:  It's the obligation of the town to ensure that this is as responsible a project as it can be.  We are all watching this.  This is BIG, significant, and impactful.  Of great concern and interest to many." 

And perhaps the key statement of the night, a sentiment shared by everyone in the room:  "We have an obligation to get it right." 

As does the Planning Board, who will pick up the hot potato on Wednesday night.


Anonymous said...

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!! Can't the NIMBY's give it a rest. It is good that people are paying attention to what is being developed but the nit picking is just absurd.

Dr. Ed said...

Exactly why is it a problem that the town's open container law can't be enforced on private roads? It can't be enforced in your bedroom, either.

They said that the Puritans were opposed to "Bear Baiting" not because it caused pain to the bear but because it caused enjoyment to the people who watched it -- and that the Puritans lived in fear that somewhere, someone was having fun.

Young adults having fun -- perish the thought! Next thing we'll be hearing about is fears of fornication -- they might happen to meet other young people who might even become their future spouses. Heaven forbid!!!!

Um, have any of you ever thought about who is going to be paying your Social Security and State Pensions if there isn't a successful generation of young adults in family units?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:04 AM

So being concerned about zoning regulations, safety of the residents, traffic impacts, etc. is nitpicking? Read the story in the Gazette or better yet watch what happened during the public comment period at the Select Board meeting on ACTV. I think you'll find thoughtful questioning of this preliminary plan.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the purpose of a public hearing to hear from the public?

Tom McBride said...

Yes. As the town manager calmly says, we have to hear from everybody. And I'd agree. The manager frequently says that when he doesn't want to be blamed for the outcome. This is the downside of not having a mayor.