Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tomorrow, & Tomorrow, & Tomorrow

Former industrial site near North Amherst center
Proposed transformation

On Thursday February 2nd the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals will convene for the 6th and hopefully final time to support the Comprehensive Permit for Beacon Communities North Square mixed use development at the Mill District in North Amherst.

Yes, academic Amherst once had industry.  Old timers refer to that area of town as "the dirty hands district" because of those long gone industries.  Today industrial land makes up less than 1% of the town tax base.

The Beacon proposal will revive that former industrial site, which currently pays the towns less than $10,000 in property taxes, in a way that will stimulate all of North Amherst via the tenants and businesses it attracts while enhancing our town coffers with over $500,000 in annual property taxes.

In order to offset the losses they will incur from having 26 subsidized housing units in the 130 unit proposal, Beacon will be seeking a temporary ten year property tax break on those units, legislation that was championed by late Town Manager John Musante.

The state requires a town to contribute financially to a Comprehensive Permit project anyway and this method is far less painful since it does not take any money out of the treasury and simply forgoes collecting money over a ten year period.

But how much exactly?

When Beacon Communities came into town four years ago and saved our bacon by buying Rolling Green to keep all 204 units on the Subsidized Housing Index, the town contributed $1.25 million up front.

Forever activist Vince O'Connor, a North Amherst resident, was circulating a sheet at the recent ZBA meeting showing the total tax breaks Beacon is seeking over ten years coming to almost $5 million.

Vince O'Connor low tech tax guestimate

But the spreadsheet presented to the Select Board on January 23rd concludes it will be far less than that (although it is a tad complicated):

Click to enlarge/read

According to Mollye Lockwood,  Cowls VP of Real Estate and Community Development:

It is a reasonable request for the town to contribute about $2 million in
tax relief (that is the approximate amount for the total 10 year period
and what I believe Vince was trying to calculate) to have not only the 26
affordable units but all of the other benefits related to economic
development, village center revitalization, smart growth, etc. (The town,
or anyone else, could not build 26 affordable units deed restricted into
perpetuity for very-low and extremely-low income households for $2
This is a great value for the community and the opportunity cost
that will be lost by not doing it would cost the town exponentially more
in the long run.

Amherst continuously pays lip service to the idea of subsidized housing.  Now it's time for town officials to put their money where their mouth is. 


Anonymous said...

Definitely miss the sawmill and the huge sized Timbers from Cowls. No one could produce like them. Luckily we still have Parlee in Littleton, the oldest continuously operating sawmill in the USA. They did not get ahead of themselves.

The concern by those that do not own this property is awkward. We used to control land by buying it in Massachusetts, not by using the town government as a tool to take from others. This seems communist.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty easy to tell that Amherst is productive on less than 1% of its land.

Primary product made, needy liberals, which are toxic pollution in themselves and require more pollution to make than any other American Product. These products take about 2 decades to make, it is very slow, they are made on residential zoned land - which ruins our neighborhoods.

The pollution required to make these products is greater than almost any other product made in history - over 6500 lbs of solid human waste as just one byproduct. Then once complete and out in the world, the product will continue to make this waste for as long as it is in use. It is not happening as much, but many of these products actually move on to make more products, they are like robots, programmable and somewhat predictable. They need endless inputs, most of which are very polluting too.

Despite the pollution, direct costs and extreme negative impact on society if these products are made wrong (which is more common than not and getting worse), we do not require the operators of these factories to be licensed or qualified in any way, we let them get away with this without a permit, it is crazy. We let them start the factories with no money to invest or maintain the factory.

There are rarely if ever government inspections of the process like the milder industries (making ballasts, processing waste, etc.). These residential factories require over $400,000 in direct town subsidies for EACH unit they produce and this need grows faster than inflation, of which the factories only pay about $50,000 per unit. They get this financial assistance whether the factory is rich or not, has 3 boats out back or not, 2 cars or not.

Some factories make many units and there is no limit to their production, though they are far less effective at producing then they get old....but this is a benefit, because of how bad the product they make really is and how high the long term cost is to society.

I too miss the quality wood products that Amherst used to produce. Less polluting, longer lasting, better legacy and all around higher quality. These new widget that everyone is worshiping are just junk.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, education is a bad business, because all it makes is smart people. Who needs that?

Anonymous said...

It's bad enough for Cowl's to ask for a tax break, but for you to join them,Larry?

I don't want to ever hear you complain about UMass again...

Anonymous said...

Great -- now crime in North Amherst can equal South Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

Cowls is not asking for a tax break, Beacon is. And they are investing nearly $50 million in this project so not too much to ask for.

Since Beacon took over Rolling Green crime at that location has decreased.

Anonymous said...

Rolling Green is in EAST Amherst. I'm thinking Southpoint.

Anonymous said...

Drain the swamp. Get rid of all the bums(druggies,welfare rec.) roaming around Amherst.

Anonymous said...

So Amherst spends millions on Rolling Green to keep above 10% affordable housing requirement so it can avoid excessive, dense developments under 40B that will undercut its zoning -- so we can have this excessive, dense development at Northpoint that is 3 to 4x times the density allowed by zoning. And Amherst has to keep developing for the tax revenue-and Northpoint won't contribute $2million or so in taxes. When do we get to the good part?

Larry, ever opposed a development project? Ever?

Anonymous said...

Education is great, just like food and heat.

$21,000 per year education is a rip off, like $150 hamburgers and $30/gallon heating oil.

Perhaps the reason for so many public budget issues is those that spend other peoples' money have no need or incentive to even understand the concept of a value, there is minimal if any consequence if they don't do a good job. Also you are left with the pool of folks that could not get ahead in the private sector making the decisions.

For example, let's say the town hires a poor administrator and for some reason it costs $300k to get rid of her. Let's say this person is running the schools. How much does the average parent pay to cover this bad decision for their benefit, how much does the person that hired that poor employee pay for the bad decision they made, how much does a resident that has no kids, has never been to the school and has had the high school kids vandalize his property 6 times in 4 years pay for the thing that is actually hurting him? How much value is added to the education or the town when families cannot afford basics so that other families can have free services despite need and the services are not held to a high standard, but always have the highest cost.

It is more than just a word and a little education shows us just that.

If you really get educated you can invent something, and like most things that are invented, we will become more efficient....and we wont need those being educated anymore....then we can debate social security starting at birth, I give it 30 years max. People are becoming more educated, but yet have no place in society.

Anonymous said...

Like you, Ed?

Anonymous said...

Larry, what do you know about the Superintendent's survey put out by the Search Consultants? They were supposed to ask for community input. did anyone ever get it?

Dr. Ed said...

Like me how? ''Not saying I disagree, but I didn't write it.

I'm working on my Deport Enku Gelaye article, quoting her defense of something she's doing that's identical to what Trump's doing.

I do like calling it "Northpoint, though

Anonymous said...

Ed, someone told me you got banned from the UMass campus. How did you manage that?

Dr. Ed said...

"Ed, someone told me you got banned from the UMass campus."

This is the first I've ever heard of that, and I'd dearly love to know who played you for a fool by lying to you -- but I'd be inclined not to trust that person.

I graduated, and really don't have any great desire to visit that purgatorial cesspool, but I'm totally free to go there if I was stupid enough to want to.

There really would be a lawsuit if UMass was ever stupid enough to do something like this. They don't have grounds, and lots of questions would be asked.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember this nice "village center" plan Barbara Puffer and Cinda Cowls presented a few years ago for development in North Amherst? NIMBYs take note, you ruined that nice idea!

Anonymous said...

The call volume in RG has reduced significantly. Build this already….develop the eyesore into functional land. Give the businesses up there a change to thrive with an expanded customer base. These buildings will not affect the neighborhoods in N Amh, if anything it will add pedestrian and vehicle traffic. May actually be a nice place to live for young ones of families as it will now be in close proximity to businesses and a rec area.

Anonymous said...

The issue I have is the tax break.

Anonymous said...

The issue I have is the high taxes in the first place and the fact that these homes will not produce any quality timbers or other products as this land has done for generations, it will produce needy post millennials.

Anonymous said...

Can we post " Party Zone -Mentally SLOW Kids" signs around UMass's new ex-urbia ?!@&$$$ ( What is the carbon footprint of Puftons red plush couch conflagurations) ?!!! )

Anonymous said...

I dont believe that was ed at 515 .. not his dialect nor his ideal of paranoia or conspiracy theory.. howevery this sounds just like you KG. Always dragging on Ed secret crush?

Anonymous said...

Yes a automated call on my phone