Saturday, April 25, 2015

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

 Butterfield Terrace below, Pokeberry Ridge well above

One of the routine arguments put forth by NIMBYs to uphold the sacred BANANA covenant Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything is the tired old refrain, "I moved here thinking my neighborhood zoning was etched in uranium depleted mortar shells." So now that can now never-in-a-million-years, change.

The efforts by homeowners on Pokeberry Ridge, nestled high on a ridge line 100 feet above and perhaps 400 feet back, to torpedo a zoning change on Butterfield Terrace is all too typical.
4 properties propose rezoning from RN to RG (shown in yellow)

Since the four lots in question (currently RN) are already contiguous with (higher density) RG zoning, and are situated within crawling distance of the bustling UMass campus and Amherst town center, it would be hard to find property more suitable for such a change.

Especially since the overly expensive "Master Plan" from a few years back specifically supports such density tweakings.

And even if Town Meeting gives it a two-thirds endorsement required for a zoning change the current owners would still have to get a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for any development.  And that requires a unanimous vote of all three sitting members.

The Planning Board, who are the appointed experts on such matters, voted 6-1 to support the zoning change and the Finance Committee supported it unanimously.

But the Select Board, demonstrating they are elected rather than appointed, took the easy way out and voted unanimously to recommend "referring the article back to the Planning Board for further study."

David Markland Feb 18 Planning Board meeting

The neighbors who have led the charge to fight the proposal only purchased their house less than a year ago.  And then quickly set about clear cutting their backyard to enhance the scenic vista.

 Before picture

 After picture

Although that does nothing for the backyard view of the houses down below on Butterfield Terrace, and even worse -- since trees naturally prevent storm water run off -- now when it rains, the steep incline turns into a mud slide.

Pokeberry neighbors on either side not as ambitious with tree clearing

I'm pretty sure when the residents on Butterfield Terrace purchased their homes they expected the steep hillside behind them to remain as a forested buffer from their neighbors up on Pokeberry Ridge.



Anonymous said...

UMass should build a few towers and call it "Southeast Residential Area" or at the very least throw together a five/six story building of student apartments. That would be quite hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm confused. Is this petition about re-zoning or landscaping?
Does cutting trees on one's property require a 2/3rds majority vote at Town Meeting?

Larry Kelley said...

Actually it's about hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

NIMBY A says don't build on the property next to me and uses town meeting, special interest NIMBY rights to get it.

NIMBY B starts a blog and pressures the town on many NIMBY issues, typically in favor of NIMBY.

NIMBY is human nature, special interests, town meeting, having any say on how your neighbor does what they want on their property. People want control of others, that is most of what this blog is about, NIMBY control one way or another.

Don't let my neighbor rent his house without a permit, MAJOR NIMBY.

My family has been here for 5 generations and this is MY opinion on how MY town should be run, even though MY town is made up of a bunch of privately held property, CLASSIC NIMBY combined with FALSE ELITISM (even worse).

The solution to NIMBY is LIBERTY. This blog and the valley in general are very opposed to LIBERTY (or making your own decisions), specifically because this would restrict their right to pull a NIMBY.

AitRoP should embrace what it is and welcome NIMBY allies, not criticize them for wanting a slightly different NIMBY.

By the way, elected officials are not experts, they are winners of a popularity contests, usually the lesser of evils, really just an extension of senior class president concept. Pretending otherwise, let alone writing about it, is off. If there was a blank on elections to pick a leader or eliminate their department, I bet you would watch departments vaporize.

NIMBY, like slavery, is human nature. Intelligent and respectful people rise above such actions.

You last comment was a classic.

Larry Kelley said...

Which, unlike you, had my name attached to it.

Anonymous said...


Are you against private property rights? Please don't tell me you are becoming a socialist.

Anonymous said...

It's not hypocrisy. You're comparing cutting trees to rezoning...apples to oranges.

David Markland said...


This isn't NIMBY. True we don't want spot zoning in our backyard, but here's the difference, we don't want spot zoning in anyone's backyard. Including yours Larry.

Larry Kelley said...

It is not even close to "spot zoning." Just look at the color chart.

Creep maybe, but these four parcels would NOT be an isolated island unto themselves.

My backyard is a river and my side yard is the DPW, so I have nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Vicinity dpw and a river. Drone enroute.

Larry Kelley said...

My address, like any resident of Amherst, is public information.

And my drone is armed with some kick ass toys.

steve kelly said...

Larry, Using a Google Earth image under full "leaf out" and comparing it with a picture taken before the new growing season has started and then calling it clear-cutting seems a bit disingenuous. Selective cutting for a view seems like a private property right any of us would protect. Allowing a zoning change for the benefit of a handful of homeowners that would greatly impact nearby abutters is something we should all be concerned about.

Dr. Ed said...

The real problem here is that UMass (a) expanded, via eminent domain, without any comprehensive master plan and then (b) was arbitrarily stopped where it was without any consideration of the fact that one side of the street was UMass and the other was relatively inexpensive single family homes.

Remember that UMass had already eliminated most of North Hadley Road, Lincoln Avenue between Mass Ave and the LGRC, and Ellis Avenue in its entirety. There were major concerns about the "expanding UMass" and as much as folks now want UM to build more dorms, they didn't want UM doing that in the mid-late 1960's.

Remember too that the SW Towers were three separate dormitories that they "stacked on top of each other" in response to this. (That's why they have the three indentations -- each of those is a staff apartment and initially they had three Resident Directors in each tower, each RD only responsible for the three floors above/below him/her/it.)

Butterfield Terrace and Sunset Avenue are historically problematic because of the rental housing literally across the streets from the dormitories. I don't know if a higher density housing will abate or exacerbate this issue, but I can't fathom what claim the abutters think they have.

They purchased a property that was not only immediately adjacent to a really big university but several of said university's dormitories -- with (if I can read your map correctly) student rental housing abutting their property.

Above and beyond this asinine belief that Amherst can somehow concurrently be both the home of a major university employing over 6000 persons and be a bucolic rural community with neither development nor traffic, these people bought a home right next to one of the most densely populated pieces of land in the entire Commonwealth!

Anonymous said...


Just want to correct a couple points. UMass does have a comprehensive master plan. It and all other related documents are available online. It includes provisions for academic, recreational and housing expansion.

The Southwest dorms also don't have entire floors designated as staff apartments...those floors are mostly lounge, recreation and classroom spaces.

Finally, UMass is top 3 in the US in terms of on campus population and aren't even close to top 3 in terms of enrollment, so UMass holds their weight and then some in terms of housing.

Anonymous said...

Is he shouting when he uses bold face?

Dr. Ed said...

"UMass does have a comprehensive master plan."

It does today -- I'm talking about the historical legacy of an earlier era.

"The Southwest dorms also don't have entire floors designated as staff apartments...those floors are mostly lounge, recreation and classroom spaces."

While I don't have the blueprints in front of me right now, my understanding is that it is half-and-half -- the apartment is one half of the floor and the lounge/recreation/classroom is the other.

But how is that relevant to my point that they were once run as three individual dorms, each with it's own RD?

"Finally, UMass is top 3 in the US in terms of on campus population"

Which was/is my point exactly. That is some of the most densely populated land in the entire Commonwealth

And one other thing -- as you clearly are some UM PR person, that means that you are bound by the edict of the Board of Trustees. That means that you have to call me "DOCTOR Ed."

Anonymous said...

Regarding your last line...

You are widely known as


No worries

Anonymous said...

A Horse is a horse of course of course… Hey wait a minute, that was MISTER Ed. Sry.