ZONING, THE CHARTER, AND
5-STORY BUILDINGS DOWNTOWN
The proposed Charter will give the 13-member Town Council both the power to appoint the Planning Board, which develops and recommends zoning changes, and to vote on those same proposals. The Council would also appoint the Zoning Board of Appeals, which, together with the Planning Board reviews proposals for development that requires special permits or site plan review.
This consolidation of powers is not an accident. The pro-Charter group, Amherst For All, was originally founded by developers and their supporters just 3 months after Town Meeting turned down a proposal for a zoning change that would have allowed a student housing project to be built in the residential neighborhood of Butterfield Terrace. Attempts to rezone residential streets and neighborhoods for parking lots, student housing and other high-density projects continue.
In fact, Developers and their supporters also sought rezoning to build additional 5-story buildings on the OTHER side of Pleasant Street (between Bruegger's Bagels and McClellan Street) but Town Meeting voted NO. So despite the disingenuous claims of Charter proponents who claim that the 5-story buildings being constructed downtown along Pleasant Street "happened under Town Meeting's watch," voters should understand that the developers and their supporters who proposed and built those 5-story buildings, and many of the Planning Board members who approved them, were also the FOUNDERS of Amherst For All.
This Charter campaign can be understood as an effort by a special interest group to further the development agenda to build more oversized student dormitories downtown and more high-density buildings in residential neighborhoods without interference from citizens who can express their opposition in Town Meeting.
DEVELOPMENT VIDEO: Watch a brief video interview with Amherst For All founder, spokesperson and developer, Jerry Guidera on his vision for more 5-story buildings and the future of downtown Amherst. Click here for a longer (4:22 minutes) video clip.
5-Story Building Photos Below, (clockwise from top left): Boltwood Place, the first 5-story building downtown. Kendrick Place, corner of Triangle and Pleasant Street and, One East Pleasant, now under construction. Two additional 5-story buildings are in the pipeline.
Kendrick Place, corner of Triangle & Pleasant St.
One East Pleasant Street, currently under construction.