Thursday, September 22, 2016

North End Revitalization Continues

236 N Pleasant and 12 Hallock (behind) will make way for new 4 story office building
1st new office building in Amherst in over a generation

The Planning Board voted unanimously last night (6-0) to grant Site Plan Review and Special Permits relating to height, number of floors, and set backs for a new office building at 236 North Pleasant Street proposed by two local developers Barry Roberts and Curt Shumway.

Roberts owns the building fronting North Pleasant Street and Shumway owns the one behind on Hallock Street that will be demolished for parking.  The Historic Commission enacted a one year demolition delay on the two buildings but that expires in January.

Amazingly not a single abutter appeared at the hearing to complain about noise, traffic, or the possibility that students from the Isenberg School of Management could rent some of the space.

The Carriage Shops directly across the street are slated to be demolished for One East Pleasant Street, which will be a five story mixed-use building.

 Carriage Shops across the street will be replaced by 5-story mixed use building

Thus this new office building across the street will not nearly be out of scale for the neighborhood.


Anonymous said...

It seems odd that so many projects need special permits. Is there a reason we cannot zone properly in advance? Having a system that involves so many individual decision leads to excess cost and unequal rights where some, especially those with money, get priveledge. This is literally croney capitalism. If we zone in advance AND honor this, that would be an upgrade to restricted capitalism.

Larry Kelley said...

Problem with zoning is it requires a two-thirds vote of Town Meeting to change/adapt.

And Town Meeting is dominated by NIMBY/BANANA types who wish to keep Amherst back in the age of agrarian.

Matt said...

It's not crony capitalism. A zoning variance is not a privilege. Zoning itself is more arguably cronyism than the variances because zoning makes current property owners a privileged class, seeing as they make the rules and derive the benefit from them. All the other people who would buy a house or condo, rent an apartment or start a business in town have no say.

There are three problems with zoning in advance: 1) cities and towns use zoning to keep property values high, which means zoning must be restrictive but 2) zoning in advance to keep up with market conditions would require either constant rezoning or 3) more open-ended zoning that would describe usage and not density or density and not usage -- both of which would conflict with point one.

A related issue is that zoning is sometimes made with the intent of making people go through a permitting process. In Boston, for example, it's very rare for any building to meet the floor-area-ratio allowed by zoning, so that any change will trigger a violation. This is so that just about any work will involve notifying the neighborhood.

kevin said...

Let us be clear, failure by Town Meeting to pass "Smart Zoning" under MGL 40R is pure, unabashed, unadulterated cronyism by a small group of property owners, not zoning. Town Meeting is government behind closed-doors, on a closed yahoo-group. Unlike the Planning Board, which is responsible "to protect present and future residents", Town Meeting has NO, NONE, ZERO fiduciary duty.

Please do not say that zoning is cronyism. The Amherst Planning Board, under penalty of law, is as by-the-books as you can get. With more than 100-years of professional experince among them.

Cronyism, on the other hand, is alive and well in Amherst Town Meeting, immune from conflict of interest. Who ROUTINELY use their elected position to advocate against zoning articles before Town Meeting where they are Parties in Interest. Who ROUTINELY use their elected position to influnce a state-mandated board.

Here, from the Sunday NY Times, maybe you missed it --

How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality
The New York Times