134 Montague Road, North Amherst
View that is currently screened by historic barn
The post and beam barn situated between a historic old 1768 farmhouse and an about to be developed Mill District is indeed a notable fixture just on the outskirts of North Amherst Village Center. And has been for well over 100 years.
The Amherst Historical Commission had no problem last night designating the barn a "significant structure," but they seem to agonize over the issuance of a one year demolition delay. The vast majority of residents who attended the meeting had no such reservations, as they simply wanted the view maintained no matter what it cost W.D. Cowls.
Approximately 30% of Amherst's total land area is "permanently protected open space." And over half the property in town is owned by tax-exempt institutions: Amherst College, UMass and Hampshire College being the major players.
Combine that with the well above average cost of our public schools and you have the top two reasons why Amherst has the areas highest property tax, which prices out the middle class.
Only 10% of our tax base is commercial, so residential property is disproportionately relied upon to bring in tax revenues. Saving this barn for one year only delays the process of turning that area into a "commercial" cash cow with the development of The Mill District.
In fact the Historical Commission placed a one year delay on the demolition of the the old Trolley Barn just across the street, and a few weeks after the expiration of that year it collapsed into a pile of timber. Now that location is the site of a 12,000 square foot, multi-use building that will generate tens of thousands annually in property tax revenue.
The Trolley Barn rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of a former trolley barn
In America, where property rights are paramount, the best way to ensure a neighbor doesn't do something you don't like to their property is to buy it. Or move.
Sorry, folks. Proposed student housing development (The Retreat) may be controversial but is NOT a #historic #preservation issue. Try again.
— CitizenWald (@CitizenWald) July 23, 2014
Interesting that many of the same folks who attended this meeting to advocate in behalf of ye old barn tried to get Town Meeting to buy the "development rights" to W.D. Cowls other property further to the east to stop "The Retreat" student housing development.
Historical Commission meeting sign in sheet
And these NIMBYs will be pushing for a North Amherst "Local Historic District," which will erode even further the rights of private landowners to spruce up their castle.