Thursday, August 13, 2015

Judge: Go Ahead & Build It

Kendrick Place (left) proposed One East Pleasant site circled in red

Hampshire Superior Court Justice Richard Carey allowed the town of Amherst and Archipelago Investments LLC "Motion for Summary Judgment," ending a lawsuit filed by abutter/competitor Joel Greenbaum over the proposed construction of a five-story mixed use (mostly residential) building on the site of the former Carriage Shops, in the north end of the downtown business district.


 
Amherst Carriage Inn circa 1960



The Amherst Planning Board, after five public meetings, gave Site Plan approval with two Special Permits allowing the building 5' extra height and 10% extra lot coverage.

Greenbaum filed suit claiming the proposed structure was a student dormitory, had too little parking and would cast an evil shadow on his property.

Essentially Judge Carey found that Mr. Greenbaum, with two nearby private parking lots, did not prove the new building -- which does provide 36 parking spaces where none are required -- is not a an injury "special and different from the concerns of the rest of the community."




And Judge Carey was not at all impressed with the testimony of Rolf Karlstrom, finding he's "not an expert authority on parking."

The Judge goes on to declare, "Karlstrom, as a biology professor and town resident, does not possess the knowledge necessary to evaluate city parking.  As such, any opinion in Karlstrom's affidavit will be stricken from the record."  Ouch!




Kyle Wilson (standing), Dave Williams (seated) aka Archipelago Investments LLC

While Mr. Greenbaum can appeal the decision it's unlikely that a panel of three judges would overrule such a strait forward finding from Judge Carey, who is known and respected for his thorough grasp of land use law.

29 comments:

Greta LaMountain Biagi, Esquire said...

I guess it's time to get this show on the road!

Larry Kelley said...

Let's hope! The former Carriage Shops are starting to look a tad tired. Time for some good old fashioned revitalization.

Anonymous said...

So it's official, Loose Goose isn't coming back?

Larry Kelley said...

That was official a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Build Build Build!!! Kendrick Park looks like a nice place for some stores and apartments!

Anonymous said...

That is excellent news. But it leaves one to wonder just whom Louie and Broomhilda will be bullying next.

Cinda said...

Yay Kyle and Dave!!! Please use local contractors and materials and subs whenever you can!

Anonymous said...

Regarding Judge Carey and his quote below:

"Karlstrom, as a biology professor and town resident, does not possess the knowledge necessary to evaluate city parking. As such, any opinion in Karlstrom's affidavit will be stricken from the record."

Any chance he'd be willing to run for Town Meeting Moderator? We sure could use this kind of no nonsense approach to members' self-inflated notion of expertise on all matters of things related to town planning.

Anonymous said...

Love the drone pictures - didn't even know parking existed behind toy box!! If you ever have time if would be awesome to have a video down main street.

Best

Anonymous said...

The lawsuit was ludicrous. I'm surprised the judge could read the decision without bursting out laughing.

Anonymous said...

All in all, another tremendous waste of financial resources defending against NIMBY attacks on progress.

Larry Kelley said...

Yep. And if he does file an appeal just to be obnoxious I hope Archipelago seeks reimbursement for legal fees.

Anonymous said...

This is a win for the concept of ownership.

You would not have to spend money defending against NIMBYs if ownership was more clearly defined or if other peoples' rights on your land were less defined.

Unfortunately, most people locally actually do not think people should have the right to do what they want on their land (this is why the town is involved with everything, right down to soil piles), they feel entitled to other peoples' possessions, to fly toy planes over other peoples' property and take pictures, etc....unless it is them and it is their land, their kid, their sexual orientation and then they become libertarians for a fleeting moment.

Anonymous said...

As a Town Meeting member, I've been confronted a number of times by Amherst residents who think that Town Meeting gave permission to the owners to construct this building on their own property, and are angry because Town Meeting didn't stop it.

There's usually not enough time in each conversation to examine the assumptions involved.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

There are other retail spaces in Amherst that are struggling and closing in more prime locations. How can they expect to fill all this additional space in a part of town that sees very little foot traffic?

Anonymous said...

OK, then why, e.g., should the Town extend water and sewer lines, or provide parking, at the public expense, to serve private land development?

Privatization of profit, socialization of risk: Amerikan - or Amherstian - Kapitalism at its best!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @1:31:
Most of Amherst was built that way, the infrastructure was stretched to just about every suburban house in the area at what you consider public cost (users still pay water/sewer bills). This would be most cost effective downtown where density is higher.

Parking is another matter, the town really needs to MANAGE parking if it wants downtown to grow (soon!), and this would come in the form of market rate pricing. Not only COULD parking costs be covered by user fees (metering), it could also provide additional funding to improve the neighborhood they visit.




Anonymous said...

To add one more point to anon@7:31:

Because most of the costs are paid through user fees, denser areas tend to subsidize the rollout of less dense (suburban) areas.

This applies similarly to mandatory parking requirements as well. However, this part can be corrected to benefit the public through market rate pricing with the profit being reinvested in the neighborhood.

If you want to resolve the socialization of costs, start with the parking. This is something the public sector could do a pretty good job at this too! :)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we could not argue the merits of the case here..Only whether we had "standing" to argue the legality of footnote a, the required twenty foot setback to RG zone, etc. More than 100 Amherst neighbors paid the legal fees, but the whole town loses when every neighborhood and the downtown become dormitories, student venues. If that is what readers of this website want for economic development, you got it in spades. Broomhilde

Anonymous said...

Driving is a privilege, which is made clear at every turn. You must get overseer permission do to so, even if very easy.

Owning a car is a privilege, because you have to pay for it and being able to afford it is a privilege. It is even more of a privilege in 2015 vs. previous because of the lack of jobs, low pay and low opportunity due to over-regulation, taxation and designed inflation.

Those in Amherst often like to help people make their personal decisions via social planning, limit options, make sure things go a particular way.

If driving and owning a car is a privilege and folks in Amherst see cars in town creating a parking problem....isn't creating a building or a number of buildings without parking for 2 cars per unit actually encouraging locals to NOT drive, thus reducing the burden, not increasing it. You have dramatically raised the cost of having a car. We have invested millions if not billions on this philosophy to stop smoking, perhaps it can stop an even bigger plague on our society, driving.

Lack of parking (and the Amherst traffic) makes driving expensive and thus discourages it. If you want to look at the mathematical limit of this, look at NYC. Look at the number of cars per capita there vs. here. We are trending in that direction, even if just a little bit.

This parking hoopla is an attempt at shutting down the project (or having unreasonable influence on future ones) for the wrong reason, when the project actually encourages people to be more ethical than those that would try and stop it.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, Hilda and the Greenbaums, you can't really argue that One East Pleasant is a dormitory, and at the same argue that your many rental properties are not dormitories.

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Who would have thought that Karlstrom--Mr. Save Our Neighborhoods-- would be the expert witness for the Greenbaums--one of the town's largest landlords (and the source of many noise complaints). And how would Karlstrom-- a scientist! --not know that a 55 foot building cannot cast a 300 foot+ shadow to the west, especially when there are other trees and buildings in the way.

Gavin Andresen said...

Best news I've read all week!

On "Politics makes strange bedfellows" : yes, opposition to development downtown is definitely a "bootleggers and Baptists" situation (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootleggers_and_Baptists ), with the Greenbaums being the bootleggers and Karlstrom being the Baptist.

Anonymous said...

I do worry about waiving the setback requirements when you are going more than 3 stories high -- when you have high buildings on both sides of the street, you then get wind tunnels and the rest...

Bootleggers & Baptists only works when people are drinking -- bottom will fall out of this.

Anonymous said...

anon@954: really "every neighborhood and the downtown become dormitories"? I think many would rather that students live in apartments, at high density, instead of single family homes in residential neighborhoods. These "100 Amherst neighbors" take great liberty in appropriating the downtown as THEIR neighborhood (it belongs to all of Amherst). If your alternative suggestion to housing our large numbers of students is University Housing (only), then I'm afraid you are delusional. There are always going to be a number of students that don't want to live on campus and be more grownup and independent. Already UMASS houses more students on campus than typical, when compared to other state universities.

Anonymous said...

In the past day and a half, I have happened to drive down two streets in town that were hotbeds of contention in past years, due to proposed development. One, Research Drive (adjacent to Larkspur), where the lovely medical building of Dr. Kate Atkinson sits and the other, Potwine Lane where the lovely youth soccer fields lie. Both of these proposals were considered doomsday scenarios in their time, with much public lamenting and recruitment of neighbors to serve on Town Meeting in order to decry the imminent disaster about to strike. The traffic, the speeding, the disruption of peace and calm!!!!!! And yet, those neighborhoods seem very much intact. There has been no rabble rousing in the press about the predicted doomsday coming to pass, and life has just gone on. It has gone on though, with an increase in athletic fields available to our youth and a valuable, well respected, community minded, tax paying business being able to operate within the boundaries of our town. By my estimation, this amounts to multiple wins and minimal loss for the community overall. And, if you check the attendance records of those neighbors who were recruited to serve on town meeting? I bet you'll find overwhelming evidence that they only turned up on the days that the project they were opposing (or one similar that they were eager to get on the bandwagon with) was being heard. Were the school or community services budgets of interest to them? Nope. How about our parks, our streets, our libraries, our public safety services and myriad other things that we claim to value and need to find a way to pay for? Not really.

I guess what I'm saying is that this is just a whole lotta noise about what is going to turn out to be a whole lotta nothing in terms of negative implications. What I hope will come out of it, is a more vibrant downtown with an increase in services to serve the increase in tenancy, less pressure on our housing market so that more of the existing housing can be available for families (rather than gaggles of students), and an increase in our tax base--which we very much need!

Thank you, Judge Carey, for your swift and decisive decision on behalf of our community--who number, by the way, many times more than the 100 who chipped in for legal fees on behalf of the Greenbaum rental empire.

Dr. Ed said...

I think what Greenbaum is worried about is when (not if) the bottom falls out of UMass enrollment. His product is only valuable because it is scarce -- his buildings are old and less desirable. His buildings are the ones that will have vacancies if there are them because -- at the same price, people will take the quality of the newer units over his.

I'm sure that he will be able to keep unauthorized cars out of his parking lots and/or make a tidy profit towing them out of there. He might cut into some of the business of his commercial tenants in doing so, thus hurting himself there, but he can do it. The interesting thing will be if the Pub is able to get back to what it was in the 1990s -- or not...

Anonymous said...

The bogus lawsuit stains the Greenbaum family name, despite their efforts to give back to the community.
https://www.honors.umass.edu/louis-hilda-greenbaum-gallery

Anonymous said...

Serious analysis: A 55' tall building can cast a shadow at least 300' long to the west when the angle of the light source (the sun) is in the east at an angle at most arctan(55/300) above the horizon (i.e. within about an hour or two of sunrise, depending on the season). In winter, this building will cast a long shadow throughout the day, and perhaps 300' long till perhaps 9:30 on most mid-winter mornings.

Whimsical solution: Neighbors can insist the developers install giant mirrors - or even prisms - to overcome that?

Anonymous said...

Hi 10:56
I'm an architect.

What you say is theoretically true in pure conditions. Hills, trees, and other buildings intervene in this case.
236 and 256 North Pleasant already cast shadows on Greenbaum's property.