Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's Yours Is Mine

 40 Dickinson Street, Amherst 

Amherst Town Meeting will weigh the taking of private property by eminent domain this coming session after citizens petitions were filed by yesterday's noon deadline (only requiring the signatures of ten registered voters).

Amherst College, the largest landowner in Amherst, recently purchased the Classic Chevy building on Dickinson Street, adjacent to some of their holdings, and the College plans to continue using it as a garage for their large fleet of vehicles.

The building was assessed at $548,200 and sold for $474,000.

Problem is the building now comes off the tax rolls since it is owned by a tax exempt educational institute and therefor will not pay a little over $10,000 in property taxes this year (or any year hereafter).

A few years back Amherst College also purchased the Fiber Arts Building in the downtown and removed that from the tax rolls as well (formerly paid $16,000 in taxes).

But Amherst College is also the #1 taxpayer in town for all the houses they own and rent to professors, as well as the commercial Amherst Golf Course and Lord Jeff Inn, paying roughly $500,000 this year.

And on top of that they will "donate" to the town $90,000 (for AFD protection) and another $75,000 to the Schools.

 Echo Village Apartments
Activists also want the town to take Echo Village Apartments, 24 units of formerly affordable apartments purchased last year by Jamie Cherewatti for $3 million (along with an office complex).  The property is currently assessed at $1,795,000 so it pays the town roughly $35,000 in taxes.

If Town Meeting approves an eminent domain article, which requires a two-thirds vote, the Amherst Select Board still must approve the taking by a majority vote.


Anonymous said...

"What's ours is ours" would be more accurate.

The railroad line and the surrounding streets are a
regulated public utility or just plain public. They represent a natural location for a transit hub and for intensive commercial and even some residential redevelopment. Wouldn't that be good for business in Amherst?

While it would be better if Amherst College were interested in participating willingly, having all these options on the table makes sense.

Remember: there is even "friendly" eminent domain, which can be beneficial to the current property owner by clearing blemishes to title.
Including that in language of the article doesn't require that to be the method of purchase.

-The Pragmatist

Anonymous said...

Could we see the signatures of the people who are signing off on these fantasies?

Anonymous said...

Refresh my memory. Where's the money coming from?

Larry Kelley said...

Town treasury.

Anonymous said...

Pragmatist @3:37:

Within two years Amtrak will no longer run thru Amherst. It's relocating to Northampton.

Anonymous said...

Good now team Maria can hire more administrators.

Anonymous said...

So let's see, the liberal lefties want to take over housing because some guy who legitimately makes money off the place won't give into the towns need for poor-people-status so it can get state and federal money? Why not just buy up the whole town. Take everything off the tax ledger. You are already close to doing it. Lefties love their subsidies. Leftyville

Anonymous said...

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), this comment appeared elsewhere on Larry's blog:

James Cherewatti (J.C.!) is a Christlike figure who takes entirely upon himself the abuse that the local investors hiding behind the LLC corporate veil fear their reputations would be subjected to, were their identities known.

Dr. Ed said...

Three things on taking Echo Village by emminent domain:

1: If you make it public housing -- the proposal the last time something like this came up was having the AHA run it -- it becomes tax exempt.

That means that -- in addition to having to buy it -- you don't get the $35K each year.

2: Whom do you think is paying the $35K each year? Not Jamie -- divide $35I by the number of units out there and that is what each tenant is paying -- and how much higher their rents are because of the taxes.

3: You could just make the place tax exempt anyway (I think) -- in theory you could and that would lower the rents down too....

Just sayin....

Anonymous said...

So we can't hire more firefighters or police but we can drop 750K to purchase property that will most likely sit there and become more dilapidated over time. This town is great at making strong fiscal decisions.

Anonymous said...

Why would the town want it?

Anonymous said...

Amtrak isn't the only passenger rail provider, and its trains don't go between Boston and this area, but MBTA trains do come as far west as Worcester and when (or if) Springfield's Union Station is rehab'd, they'll come further west. So it wouldn't be too big a stretch of the imagination to see passenger rail service from Amherst (connecting through Palmer) joining Springfield-Worcester-Boston commuter rail, though it might take a decade. Cleaning up the
Classic Chevy and Whiting Oil site might take at least that long....