Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Zoning Ping Pong

Strong House (left) Jones Library (center)
Proposed property sale (red box)

Last week Jones Library Director Sharon Sharry and Selectman Jim Wald went before the Planning Board just to give them a heads up about a rezoning of the Strong House History Museum from  (R-G) Residential to (B-G) Business.

 Jim Wald and Sharon Sharry appear before Amherst Planning Board last week

This would allow the less than affluent History Museum to sell side and back property to the Jones Library for their expansion/renovation.  Without the zoning change they could not sell any of their property because it would leave their facility "non conforming" according to residential zoning code.

On Monday night the Select Board briefly discussed the issue and heard that a "covenant" could become part of the article to ensure the property does not someday sell to another entity and become some other commercial enterprise.

Connie Kruger was concerned that would simply "muddy the water" and she pointed out the real problem is some people do not want the Jones Library to expand.  And a zoning article does require a challenging two-thirds vote of Town Meeting to pass.

 Jones Library is an economic engine for the downtown

A Jones Library representative is now scheduled to appear at the April 4 Select Board meeting to request the zoning issue be placed on the warrant.  The Select Board is signing the warrant that night but there's still time to add this article with a simple majority vote.

Since Town Meeting does not start until May 2 that allows enough time for the Planning Board to call a state mandated public hearing on the matter and issue their recommendation/report.

Then all it has to do is survive that zoning gauntlet know as Town Meeting.


Anonymous said...

'Connie Kruger was concerned that would simply "muddy the water" and she pointed out the real problem is some people do not want the Jones Library to expand.' How do we know how many WANT the expansion (other than the library director and trustees)? I have never seen any outreach to gauge the interest of the community in the expansion or data showing community support for expansion. Help us understand- is this entirely driven by the director and trustees?

Mark Warren said...

How good will this covenant be? Isn't Strong House trying to break there trust to sell the land?

Anonymous said...

Expand all you want. Oh, you want us to pay millions? Never mind, stay as you are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:32 am:

The expansion (and renovation, don't forget that) is being driven by the availability of matching state money.

Anonymous said...

Matching means we have to pay too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:09's statement is spot on and often times the reason for a lot of botched projects with wasteful spending. Take the MBTA's Green Line Extension (GLX) project in Boston. It's ballooned to almost 3.5 times its original cost due to never-tried-before bidding and contract methods. So instead of being ~$1 billion, it's now projected to be $3.3 billon and one of the biggest arguments by pro GLX groups is "...but we'll lose $750 million in federal funding!". Available matching funding is no excuse to continue a questionable project without further review and comment....whether a GLX project or a Jones Library project.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of one of those telecommercials, SAVE TEN MILLION DOLLARS ON THE PURCHASE OF A NEW LIBRARY"

but it still costs $10,000,000...

Anonymous said...

Larry used to be the fiscal watchdog, but lately he's the fiscal lapdog for $100 million in spending.