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.