Carriage Shops: future home of One East Pleasant Street
Basic rule of last resort in the NIMBY handbook: When all else fails file a lawsuit.
Last week Hampshire Superior Court Judge Richard Carey heard a "Motion For Summary Judgement" in the case brought against Archipelago Investments and the Amherst Planning Board.
If the Judge supports the motion filed by the town and the developer, construction on One East Pleasant Street can commence.
Joel Greenbaum, a local property manager with 27 properties in town containing a total of 212 bedrooms filed the suit as an abutter claiming One East Pleasant Street, with 80 units of housing providing 180 new beds, will cause him unique injury.
Greenbaum asserts that because One East Pleasant Street only provides 36 parking spaces for 180 tenants parking for his nearby units will be negatively impacted. But the simple counter to that is parking is a general complaint that impacts the entire downtown, thus Mr. Greenbaum is not suffering any unique harm.
Town Attorney Joel Bard told the Judge parking is a policy issue, not a legal concern.
The more specific complaint that one of his properties would suffer harm via a shadow cast by the five story project was shown to be false as part of the "discovery process."
Archipelago's attorney Mark Bobrowski countered the complaint that One East Pleasant Street was a dormitory (not allowed in the downtown district) by pointing out all the units would be leased as apartments and not by the bed.
Of course the genuine concern for Mr. Greenbaum is that One East Pleasant Street will provide brand new high-end rental units to compete with his tired older offerings. But land use law does not consider economic injury brought on by all-American competition to be grounds for "special injury."
Even in the unlikely event the Judge turns down the Motion For Summary Judgement and then goes on to rule in favor of Mr. Greenbaum's lawsuit, all it does is neutralize the two Special Permits granted by the Planning Board allowing extra height and lot coverage.
Archipelago would still have "by right" the authority to build a five-story, mixed-use building on that site they already invested $4.6 million acquiring. And I'm guessing they would.
Bring on the shadow.