Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Retreat: Back to the Drawing Board

 Planning Board responded to preliminary presentation from 12/4/13

About the only surprise in this official Planning Board response to Landmark Properties proposal for the Retreat student enclave in North Amherst is the demand the roads throughout the complex be "public" rather than private. 

Although they seem to waffle a bit with the wordy "It is the Planning Board's preference that .. " intro, so maybe demand is not quite the correct word.

If the roads are private then that lessens the workload of the DPW and Police Department (but certainly not the already understaffed Fire Department).  And with the recent Mutual Aid Agreement Court decision killing joint patrols between APD and UMPD, I can see where having a private security force oversee the facility is a benefit to taxpayers.

Especially since the on-the-tax-rolls development will pay around $400,000 in annual property taxes; so the less services they use up in overhead the larger the net gain to the town treasury.

But much was made at the public hearing about the safety of roads that are not up to "public" standards (Walmart vs Neiman Marcus).  And the clientele using them will be somewhat the novice drivers.

So it looks as though that could be a deal breaker.   Your move Landmark. 


Anonymous said...

Next time you're found
With your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned
So look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie
In the sky hopes

Anonymous said...

Why would Landmark back down from a deal that saves them money? Wouldn't public maintenance of the roads simply reduce dollars spent on their operating expenses?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it usually work out that a private development is built with private roads and then eventually the roads are given over to the town to plow and maintain? Great way of keeping the profits and passing along long-term costs.

Anonymous said...

By now doesn't Amherst have the name of a contact at Landmark for this project (so this letter could've be addressed to them- rather than a random sir or madam)

Anonymous said...

The issue here is whether the roads would be built to standards that would allow them to become public roads sometime in the future. If they are not built to these standards then they could never be public roads in the future. This is actually good long term thinking by the Planning Board as Landmark (assuming this project ever gets off the drawing boards) may not own it forever (They do have a record of selling their projects) or it may fail as a student housing project. Besides the safety concers, briefly mentioned by Larry, there are also issues of crowd behavior. If these stay private roads, then the whole area is private property so the police could not come in without a complaint and could not enforce public drinking laws. With them being public roads, police can enter the area and when (not if) there are large parties, then the police can patrol and enforce these laws. Think Townhouse apartments on steriods and you'll understand why having these roads bult to public standas is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Private security force? Delusional thinking as they have no authority to initiate civil or criminal process in MA. The cops will have to put a substation up will be a HUGE draw for off campus parties. Townhouse on steroids is very articulate...and the cops NEVER go to Townehouse....Blarney blowout anyone? This is just another idea that looks enticing on paper but will fail in reallity. Once it is built you cannot un-build it.