Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Retreat Marches On


 The Retreat, Definitive Plan
UPDATE 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.

video

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:  plans
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 viewMain 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

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Strikes me as time for the "Trans-Quabbin Expressway" -- a 4 lane divided highway heading EAST which is where people need to go.

Anonymous said...

"Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found an association between cynical distrust--which researchers described in the study as 'the belief that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns'-- and an increased risk of developing dementia."

Hmmmm......finally a way to understand what goes on in the comments section of this blog, and in the Town. Do you suppose this phenomenon gets worse when cynical mistrustful people gather close together, in, say, an auditorium? Or how about after cynical mistrustful thinking is rewarded with, say, a doctorate?

Anonymous said...

But it sounds like you're distrustful -- any dementia signs?

Anonymous said...

Not unicorn, not bear, but catamount - careful what you wish for....

Anonymous said...

All the new commenters have to live somewhere.

The retreat debate shows that people are not equal locally, it is still first come first serve.

Anonymous said...

$82,000.00!!!!

I say, BRING ON THE RETREAT.

Anonymous said...

The Retreat is a good concept in a very wrong location and unfortunately more of a $6 million cash cow for Cinda than anything else. But this is Amherst, where a logical and good decision is rarely ever made.

BTW, $82K would barely help pay the salary of ONE over-paid administrator in the school system.

Anonymous said...

This should be adjoining UMass in the row of complexes area that Pufton Village is in. There is room there to buy up some of the old dilapidated farm houses. Taking pristine woods in an isolated area far from campus doesn't make much sense. Except for Cinda.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean very wrong location? It's as good a swamp and rock pit as anywhere else in town. Bring it on, and electrify the fence to keep 'em in.

Anonymous said...

Larry will have plenty to write about if this goes through. Yes rich college kids can and will have wild parties where the police will show up. Maybe generalizing here but affluent kids have more of a sense of entitlement and who cares what the family neighborhoods have to say. Good idea bad location. Needs to be closer to UMass.

Anonymous said...

Hey we tried closer to U-mass. All the Nimbies nit picked those idea's to death. So welcome Landmark and help save Amherst from itself.

As for Cinda, didn't she just put over 1300 acres into conservation a few years ago. I am guessing there may be more. Seems like a good business person who is balancing her families business legacy with her desire for conservation. Amherst is lucky to have her.

I think the $82K is a good start. Wait until the property taxes roll in. Hopefully the town will allocate that money to emergency services as that is where the majority of the burden if any will lie for Amherst.

Oh how they wrecked this place said...

One of you should open a cane shop downtown. Pronto.


(thank me later)



Your buddy,

Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

"I think the $82K is a good start. Wait until the property taxes roll in. Hopefully the town will allocate that money to emergency services as that is where the majority of the burden if any will lie for Amherst." - Anon 12:47

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. The disaster to be called the Retreat will place numerous burdens on the town, especially in North Amherst. Rather than that tax revenue being put toward Emergency Services, the useless Town Meeting will undoubtedly find some way to squander that revenue on some ludicrous scheme to save the spotted ant from extinction or create 15 committees to determine what color the sidewalks downtown should be as to not offend anyone.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:43,

From Anon 12:47,

I can dream...., right?

Anonymous said...

"As for Cinda, didn't she just put over 1300 acres into conservation a few years ago"

Yes, and she put the Retreat land into protected status too.

I guess they should call her Rescinda Jones.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you said,"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."

FYI, after "investing years of effort (and tons of money) into making a project happen" in Eugene, Oregon, Landmark was defeated by a coalition of community people. It ain't over yet.

Anonymous said...

Larry: You deride Cushman residents (even though there are people from all over town that oppose the Retreat) as NIMBY who are trying to protect the character of their neighborhood, and who expect the town to stand up for its own zoning. Yet when a developer on Fearing Street announces he's building an owner occupied home, you say "I hope they get a warm welcome to the neighborhood that aggressively laments absentee owner student rentals." Is Landmark not an absentee owner? Not to mention that they quickly sell off 80% of the ownership to investors. People in Save Historic Cushman have often said they do not oppose sensible development of Cowls' parcel, ie: 55+ community that doesn't require dozens of waivers and variances that trample the R-O zoning. And even though many people do not want 700 wealthy, disruptive students in their backyard (look at police reports from other Retreat occupied towns and cities), doesn't mean they don't appreciate living in a college town. They support a needed amount of new housing on campus, and welcome the workaround that Senator Stan Rosenberg said could easily happen, allowing public / private partnerships for construction of new dorms on campus.

Larry Kelley said...

The developer is not building the new home on Fearing Street. He sold it to a nice couple who is building it as their place of residence. So be nice.

Anonymous said...

"in a very wrong location"

"This should be adjoining UMass in the row of complexes area that Pufton Village is in. There is room there to buy up some of the old dilapidated farm houses. Taking pristine woods in an isolated area far from campus doesn't make much sense."

actually, it's in a great location. who says the area next to pufton is for sale? or able to be constructed on? what type of zoning is it? is there even enough room???

the retreat is in a great spot and a section for students is a great idea, MUCH needed.

all these anti-retreat NIMBYs want their cake and to eat it too. stop complaining about the kids and then complaining when an idea is proposed to help them and you

Anonymous said...

They support a needed amount of new housing on campus, and welcome the workaround that Senator Stan Rosenberg said could easily happen, allowing public / private partnerships for construction of new dorms on campus.

And Landmark then sells the parcel to a 40B developer who puts in a THOUSAND low-income tax-credit units and you have great fun.

I don't know if it had occurred to any of you schmucks but Amherst's refusal to use public housing for college kids is how you have the other social problems increasing in town. In your schools. Downtown.

Anonymous said...

actually, it's in a great location. who says the area next to pufton is for sale? or able to be constructed on? what type of zoning is it? is there even enough room???

Remember the fuss a decade ago when there was a proposal to extend Hobart lane?

Anonymous said...

"Remember the fuss a decade ago when there was a proposal to extend Hobart lane?"

...or just a few years back when there was a proposal to rezone North Amherst Village Center for greater density, where services, recreational opportunities and public transportation already exist?

Anonymous said...

"workaround that Senator Stan Rosenberg said could easily happen, allowing public / private partnerships for construction of new dorms on campus."

It's great that the Pacheco Rule workaround COULD easily happen.

NOW WHAT HAVE ROSENBERG AND STORY BEEN DOING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?

Anonymous said...

ARE STAN AND ELLEN FEELING COUNTERVAILING PRESSURE FROM OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING MANAGERS AND OWNERS (INCLUDING LLC HIDDEN INVESTORS) TO NOT MOVE THE PACHECO RULE WORKAROUND THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE QUICKLY?

Dr.Ed said...

Perhaps some folks are waiting for them to start this and then hope to make it a statewide move to totally eliminate Pacheco.

:)


It ain't gonna happen, not after the companies that do this sort of thing see the Retreat fuss...

Anonymous said...

Am I reading that right -- $18M to just cut down the trees and put in the roadways & utilities? Not to build anything, but just the site prep? On a $6.5M property?

Usually the land is far more expensive...

Anonymous said...

@ Anon4:17: If you go to the site, you'll see why it will cost so much for site prep. It's all woods and hills with lots of granite ledges, etc.

Anonymous said...

perhaps a stone quarry would be a better use of the land?