Monday, February 23, 2015

If You Get Permission To Build It

Butterfield Terrace property impacted in oval,  Pokeberry Ridge underlined

A cluster of four properties on Butterfield Terrace, sandwiched between UMass and Amherst town center, could see an increase in housing density IF -- and that's a BIG if -- Town Meeting approves a citizen's petition article requesting a zoning change from the current RN (medium density) to the higher density RG.

Even with the zoning change, which requires a two-thirds Town Meeting vote, any development to increase housing units (up to 18 are possible according to town Planning staff but the petitioner put the number at 14) would still require a Special Permit.

Petitioner Mike Alpert told the Planning Board last week that most people in town don't even know Butterfield Terrace exists and the nearest neighboorhood street, Pokeberry Ridge, is 100 feet higher up, so their "scenic vistas" will not be impacted.

But that didn't stop neighbors from speaking out against the zoning change, citing of course the impact of noise from renters presumed to be, gasp, students.

Half the current housing on Butterfield Terrace is owner occupied.  Units requesting Zoning Change:  35,43,51,61

The petitioner was forthright about wanting the zoning change to allow for development, but did say they could end up owner occupied or senior housing.

 Only one of six housing units on Pokeberry Ridge is a rental

The Planning Board voted 5-1 to recommend the zoning change to Town Meeting.

Planning Board Chair David Webber

Although, with the batting average the Planning Board has had with Town Meeting of late, that recommendation could do more harm than good.


Anonymous said...

What is happening at the old horse fields on Eastman Lane?

Anonymous said...

Looks like a communications conduit to the UMass Police Station, but the work is in the "riverfront" - except it's no longer "riverfront" since UMass was able to persuade the ConCom about 11 years ago that the perennial stream there is "intermittent" - and that was a result of a surface water diversion when UMass built it's huge new parking lot up there, just north of the Orchard Hill dorms….

- Pave Paradise, Put up a Parking Lot!

Anonymous said...

This is a logical place for some student housing. Unlike the Retreat, it's right next to campus.

Dr. Ed said...

Looks like a communications conduit to the UMass Police Station

Could also be a replacement, re-routing, and/or upgrade of one of the four 13,600 volt lines between UMass and whatever WMECO is called now.

These are 3-wire circuits, either three wires on top of a pole or buried underground, and this may be part of what is involved in removing the overhead wires from downtown as two of the lines came in from that side of campus.

The other two came in behind NVA.

Anonymous said...

That is a great place to build a new neighborhood. That area could fit a few new streets and a couple dozen homes.

Anonymous said...

Ed gets it wrong again. Good God Ed when will you ever give up. You don't know jack about the Universities electrical distribution system. Stick to whatever it is you think you know and quit talking about a subject your not qualified to even use..

The Juggernaut said...

Town residents will shout this down, and when student housing is developed further out in neighborhoods about town another group of residents will shout about that. It's a hot-potato situation, but it seems like rational thought it out the window on this one. Where better to place student housing than adjacent to existing student housing!?

Anonymous said...

Those poor people on Pokeberry Ridge and Butterfield Terrace naively thinking that buying a house in a residential neighborhood actually meant that.

Did they not realize that spot zoning is common in Amherst? Just ask for more density and increased land value and you will recieve.

Or did they think the University would actually house it's own students instead of letting neighborhood after neighborhood get overrun by students? All for the financial gain of a few landowners and landlords.

Hope that the Planning Board does not turn its eyes onto your neighborhood.

The Juggernaut said...

Anon 1035

"Or did they think the University would actually house it's own students instead of letting neighborhood after neighborhood get overrun by students? All for the financial gain of a few landowners and landlords."

Neighborhoods aren't overrun with students in Amherst, they are intermingled. This causes the poor relations with the town, instead of dividing the populations which would result in better development and less conflict.

Dr. Ed said...

You don't know jack about the Universities electrical distribution system.

Please note my use of the past tense ("came" rather than "come") -- in editing out all but the most essential sentences,I accidentally eliminated the part about before the new steam plant.

I neither know nor claim to know what the system currently is.

I was speculating -- that's what the "[c]ould also be" meant.

The only thing I actually stated was, essentially, that three phase power requires three hot conductors, and that wmecO's voltage in Amherst is (or was) 13,600 -- with Alpha, Bravo & Charlie all having 8,700 volts to ground. Would you like me to explain how the three lines differ?

And did you know that 120 times a second there is a brief instant when the voltage in each line is zero and why? Or why the amperage rating for switches is often lower with DC power than AC power?

Hint: It has something to do with sine curves....

Ever seen what happens to a backhoe that "finds" one of these lines? I not only have but am ever so glad that I went to lunch late as I'd otherwise been standing there when it happened...


And one other thing: It's "university's" -- possessive not plural -- you are saying that the university owns it, not that there is more than one Planet UMass. And while I personally think it should be capitalized as a proper noun, the AP Style Manual says not to unless you are including the "of Massachusetts."

So how about you stay away using the English language and stick to whatever it is you think you know something about.

Dr. Ed said...

As to the removing the poles and wires from downtown, there are things people need to think about.

Wires need to be somewhere and if they aren't on poles, that means underground. That means they have to be put underground and maintained underground.

There is a lot more work involved in doing this and it takes a lot more time -- in addition to the disruption of the digging and the extra costs somehow being passed on to the customers, it means you wait in the dark a whole lot longer if something goes wrong.

While storms aren't bringing down wires and drunk drivers aren't bringing down poles anymore, underground cables can and do short out and it isn't like you can reattach the wire or set a new pole to fix this...

Dr. Ed said...

What I don't understand is how the Board of Health has the power to act independently of Town Meeting (the tobacco age increase) while the Planning Board doesn't.

I'm sure that the Board of Health cold argue the health benefits of having sufficient housing for the UMass students -- they would be on at least as solid ground as arguing that restricting tobacco sales in Amherst (but not Hadley) would reduce smoking -- and then what?

Why can't the Board of Health just order a zoning change? So what if it isn't what their authority is supposed to be for -- I doubt the tobacco law is either.

Anonymous said...

Ed, Planning Board's powers are under MGL 40A primarily and under that law zoning matters are regulated by town meeting.

According to, "The general structure, powers, and duties of local boards of health are found at M.G.L. c. 111, s.26-33. Boards have authority to adopt and enforce reasonable health regulations under M.G.L. c.111, s.31. Case law upholds boards’ authority to adopt regulations that are more restrictive than state standards so long as the local regulations do not conflict with state law and are not specifically preempted."