Opinion: Leverett Is Not Florida


Photo: Juggler Meadow Estate

This column appeared previously in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

John Varner

In Florida, it is common for developers to plan and build entire new communities. A few political favors are done, a new exit ramp springs off the closest highway, and regulatory concerns are bulldozed along with the land.

Within the span of a few months, hundreds of acres of land are converted from swamp and saw grass prairie to a couple thousand condos, apartments, and closely spaced cookie-cutter houses, a school and a shopping mall.

Now one of those out-of-state developers is eyeing the Kitteridge estate in rural Leverett. The plan involves hundreds of houses and apartments, built not at the boundary between swampland and suburbia, but in a community of less than 2,000 residents, many of whom live in 18th-century farmhouses sprinkled in woodlands that host deer, bear, and all manner of other creatures and plants that live in the patches of forested land that remain in New England.

The plan relies on currently nonexistent water and sewer services being expanded from Amherst, which has already been tapped to supply water to Leverett residents whose wells were contaminated by an old dump.

The people pushing the project forward with promises of affordable housing and an increased tax base brush aside concerns about the need for an expanded fire department and police force. They downplay the strains placed on the school system. The country lanes that will be choked with hundreds of additional cars don’t rate consideration.

And they ignore the social fabric and history of this tiny colonial era town. Their project is branded as progress, and those who oppose it are likely to be painted as Luddites or elitist or racists.

Pssst! Leverett is not Florida. Leverett is not even Amherst. Adding hundreds of housing units will not distort the community, it will open the door to its destruction. This pig-in-a-poke project is not progress, it is another example of a few wealthy people trying to enrich themselves by impoverishing a local community.

John Varner is a resident of Amherst’s District 3.

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3 thoughts on “Opinion: Leverett Is Not Florida

  1. I have special memories of Leverett because Leverett is a special place for former Amherst townies like myself. HANDS OFF LEVERETT please don’t let outside capitalists destroy it like they have Cowles Rd. and downtown it makes my heart ache.

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