The Mill District
After innumerable public meetings before a bevy of boards and committees leading up to the all important Zoning Board of Appeals Comprehensive Permit hearings, Beacon Communities representatives must feel like one of those purported abductees taken aboard an alien vessel for a close up examination including pokes and prods of every pore.
At the outset the ZBA scheduled three dates for examining the mixed use $45 million proposal, with January 5th being the final one at which they would vote on the measure which requires a two thirds vote to pass.
But at last week's Select Board meeting Town Manager Paul Bockelman told the SB an additional meeting would be required and the next one on the ZBA calender was January 19.
Chair Alisa Brewer somewhat bristled at the news wondering why the extra meeting was necessary and why it was scheduled two weeks from the 3rd one rather than only one week which is the way the Select Board handles important hearings.
Turns out the ZBA has not yet posted the date for that final meeting as they are trying to come up with a night that works for all concerned but it would be sooner than January 19.
Since the 130 unit development is providing 26 units of desperately needed subsidized housing Beacon is seeking tax credits and financing from the state to make the project work and need to have all approvals in place by mid February.
Beacon will also be seeking Select Board approval for a property tax reduction on those 26 below market rate units under the "Affordable Housing Property Tax Incentive" passed by Town Meeting two years ago, an important legacy legislation championed by the late Town Manager, John Musante.
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The usual NIMBYs have attacked the project with the usual complaints about being too big and leading to the destruction of the historic character of their neighborhood like Godzilla stomping through Tokyo.
More ominously they brought in a hired gun attorney to the last ZBA hearing, which of course brings up the prospects of a nuisance lawsuit hoping to delay the project, causing Beacon Communities untenable financial losses.
The same desperate strategy unsuccessfully used against One East Pleasant Street 18 months ago.
But NIMBYs never learn -- especially in Amherst.