Letter: Speak Up On Zoning Debacle

Photo: flckr.com. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I’m writing to ask for your help.  If you don’t like what’s happening in Amherst, please make your voice heard.  Email town officials and send letters to the media.  Do it now, before additional zoning changes are voted into effect, and while candidates running in November’s elections are alert to voters’ opinions.  The more people who speak up, the better our chance of getting the town we want.

Here are some of the issues that might concern you.

You might say you are against:

  • Large five-story buildings being permitted downtown—essentially private student dormitories with little or no retail or restaurant space
  • Inadequate parking for new residences downtown
  • Loss of many small businesses because rents are prohibitive
  • Zoning amendments to encourage “densification” in neighborhoods throughout Amherst
  • Rezoning without planning or design standards
  • Minimal efforts to encourage affordable housing for workers and families
  • Inadequate opportunity for public input, in a convoluted process that is not transparent
  • Changes being pushed through hastily for political reasons but without considering their cumulative effects
  • Single-minded focus on housing, while neglecting the arts and culture, historic preservation, open space, ecological concerns, economic vitality, and preserving Amherst’s small-town character.

If you agree, please urge the town council not to vote on any zoning changes until residents are informed of those changes, and have a chance to consider and give input about potential impacts. 

Since the formation of Amherst’s town council, our zoning amendment process has been pushed and rushed, and the few residents who have tried to follow the confusing process and offer input have been routinely ignored. More feedback from our community would be so helpful in persuading councilors to more deliberately live up to Amherst’s slogan, “open government to the max.”

Here’s who to email

bockelmanp@amherstma.gov

brestrupc@amherstma.gov

planning@amherstma.gov

towncouncil@amherstma.gov

Here’s who to contact in the media:

Chad Cain ccain@gazettenet.com
Jim Russell – masslive: jimrussell@comcast.net

Scott Merzbach smerzbach@gazettenette.com

Amherst Indy arthurskeene@gmail.com

If you’d like to get more informed, see here: https://www.amherstindy.org/?s=zoning

Ira Bryck


Ira Bryck has lived in Amherst since 1993, ran the Family Business Center for 25 years, hosted the Western Mass. Business Show on WHMP for seven years, now coaches business leaders, and is a big fan of Amherst’s downtown.

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