The Retreat, Definitive PlanUPDATE 9:30 PM
As expected about 40 North Amherst residents showed up to the Conservation Commission meeting tonight to hear the team of 5 Landmark Properties consultants discuss the environmental issues relating to the property.
Conservation Commission meeting 7:45 PM
About a half dozen neighbors spoke during public comment -- sometimes questioning the quality of the work performed -- but nothing was settled one way or the other.
Landmark also hired a stenographer to record the meetings
A town picked "3rd party reviewer"(paid for by Landmark) will go over all the findings, retrace the field work, and report back to the Conservation Commission. So tonight's public hearing was continued until July 23rd
NIMBYs hope maybe the town hired consultant will discover a unicorn lair on site.
Ira Bryck floats conspiracy theory the Cowls is trashing streams. Response was, umm, No
Retreat at Amherst, LLC -- aka Landmark Properties -- filed their "Definitive Subdivision Plan" yesterday with the Amherst Planning Department just under the May 29 deadline to avoid coming under new zoning bylaws (and permit cost increases) since filing their preliminary plan back in November.
They also wrote checks to the town totaling $82,536 for application and inspection fees, which underscores just how serious they take this badly needed housing project, situated on 147.3 acres of woodland in northeast Amherst.
Retreat: More plans
Landmark will also be paying (in the tens of thousands) for a planning consultant to help the Planning Board deal with a wheel barrel full of paperwork.
Google Earth view. Main entry now relocated to top left near town water treatment plant
The preliminary cluster plan had 123 lots with a total of 175 housing units with 71 of them single-family and 104 duplex for a total number of 641 occupants. The definitive plan has the same numbers of units/occupants but spread out over a larger area.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the project is the targeted demographic for "occupants": UMass students. Landmark Properties bills itself as, "one of the leading student housing development and management companies in the nation."
As such they are intimately familiar with NIMBY tactics and don't seem to mind investing years of effort (and tons of money) into making a project happen. Since the initial deal was first hatched in February, 2013 we are already over a year in with no bulldozers in sight.
A traffic study by BETA Group concluded, "With the mitigation proposed the future traffic conditions resulting from the proposed residential development will provide for adequate and safe access to a public street, and will not have a detrimental effect on public safety and welfare in the study area."
One of the usual NIMBY complaints is higher traffic would increase accidents.
The Next Steps:
This evening, Landmark Properties will present to the Amherst Conservation Commission their consultant's "wetland delineation" for the project, and naturally the NIMBYs will be out in force, loaded for bear.
W.D. Cowls, Inc property off Henry Street. Under contract for $6.5 million to Landmark Properties