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Amherst residents need to take back their town

The Town of Amherst has allowed the pendulum to swing too far. Now it is time for the residents to bring it back into balance. For far too long, developers have built too many bad projects in too many good places.

In Amherst, there is a long-standing affinity by town boards toward commercial projects regardless of site suitability, and the decks are cleared to fast-track them all. The Town Board sits mum while the Zoning Board hands out variances like candy on Halloween and the taxpayers only hear the three-minute “time’s up, sit down” bell when it comes to their input at board meetings.

The Iskalo Hyatt is somewhat alive due to the strong-arm tactics of the developer. The Town Board paved the way for this project behind the scenes a year before the project was announced. That allowed for site plan and other approvals required to be reviewed in public to be expeditiously granted. This pattern of behavior has been mastered by the Amherst Town Board and greases the wheels for developers, stacking the deck in their favor, outside the public eye. It shortens the public review period, thus the ability of a community to organize and dispute the project’s merits. Any reasonable public official would have shown Iskalo how its hotel is over scale, incongruous with the neighborhood fabric, would devalue adjacent residential properties and exacerbate already congested Main Street. The Hyatt will sit two blocks from the grossly over-scale Paladino monstrosity.

Incongruous, over-scale development is the deathblow to even the most stable community. If our elected leaders and the boards they appoint are unwilling to perform their responsibilities for the benefit of the public and the community as a whole, they should be replaced.

It’s time to reset the pendulum.

Michele F. Marconi

Friends of Mike’s Pond

Amherst