Judge questions merits of lawsuit against proposed Retreat housing development in Amherst

Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014
AMHERST — A Land Court lawsuit may be dismissed next week if the plaintiffs cannot convince a judge of the merits of their argument that a proposed student housing project in the Cushman section of Amherst violates town zoning bylaws.

The plaintiffs have argued that The Retreat — a 123-unit, 641-bed project proposed for close to 150 acres set between Flat Hills Road, Henry Street and Market Hill Road — can only be built in residence-fraternity zoning districts, not in the outlying residence district, where student-exclusive housing is prohibited.

A telephone conference scheduled for March 4 was postponed when the attorney representing the plaintiffs, who are members of the Save Historic Cushman group, was unavailable.

The attorneys for W.D Cowls Inc. and Landmark Properties LLC, both named as defendants, were part of this session.

This prompted the judge to issue an order for the plaintiffs to “show cause” or else have the case dismissed.

Jack Hirsch, president of Save Historic Cushman, said in an email to the Gazette that the phone conference was a procedural matter and the plaintiffs will follow the judge’s order to show cause through a written statement.

“Our attorney will continue with plans to depose Landmark executive(s) as soon as it can be scheduled,” Hirsch said.