Circa 1860 Carriage House, 1081 South East Street
After more than an hour of discussion punctuated by a few pregnant pauses and four votes taken, the Amherst Historical Commission, finally, decided unanimously NOT call a Demolition Delay Hearing which would have resulted in one-year protection for a historic circa 1860 South Amherst carriage house.
Architect John Kuhn was forthright with his presentation saying, "Let me be clear: We don't want to have a hearing. The building is not worth putting money into."
Kuhn presented the replacement building (already approved by the ZBA) which will serve as a garage and office to the current owners, but is designed to allow for a better view to the rear of the main house onto land recently purchased by the owners.
After filing a demolition permit the Historical Commission has 35 days to call a Demo Delay Hearing, which requires time to post legal notices. So the 9/21 meeting was pretty much the last chance to call that Hearing.
The Commission's concerns were of the standard "vanishing landscape" variety. This carriage house was a "contributing structure" to the South Amherst Common Historic District, and the only one left of its kind in that District.
Commission members were also unhappy with the new design not matching the original structure it would be replacing.
Kuhn responded somewhat indignantly: "I didn't think this was a design critique kind of meeting. The building is set back from the house so it does not dwarf it. My clients have already spent a lot of money on design so we are not here to look at alternative designs."
Kuhn also pointed out the Zoning Board of Appeals had already approved the new design.
The first vote on the motion NOT to call a Demolition Delay Hearing was met with total silence. On the second attempt two voted yes to not calling a Hearing and two hesitated. Again.
The Chair then offered to write a letter to the owners expressing their concerns and requesting their presence at a Commission meeting. The motion to table a decision until next meeting passed 3-0 with one abstention.
But then Senior Planner Nate Malloy pointed out the next meeting would be too late to hold an official demolition hearing (as the deadline will have passed) so they took yet another vote on simply writing a letter of concern but NOT holding a demolition delay hearing.
That passed 3-0 with one abstention. Kuhn promised to take the official letter "seriously."
Carriage House at 1081 South East Street is currently used as garage and office