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Robin Morris: ‘Mountaintop removal’ underway beside Puffer’s Pond in Amherst



Friday, April 18, 2014
AMHERST — While the inhabitants of North Amherst were looking fearfully to the east, where the threat of the Retreat loomed, we were blind-sided by an attack from the west.

Back in February, residents of the Puffer’s Pond neighborhood received an abutter’s notice, informing us of a meeting to approve renovations by new owners to the old house beside the pond.

The meeting, however, took place on a snowy night in February, so no one went. The next notice informed residents that the requests had been approved. It’s reasonable to improve an old house, and no one desires excessive regulation of private land, but this one “renovation” has taken the neighborhood by storm.

Those of us in our homes during business hours (the home being where many now conduct business) are now subject to a barrage of jackhammers, which we are told will continue for a month — the time it takes to demolish the boulders alongside Puffer’s Dam.

Considering that the dam itself is a popular enough landmark to be featured on the town’s website video, it is shocking that such a drastic change to the landscape was approved with so little due diligence.

The fact that the neighborhood would be subject to the processes of a mountaintop removal operation was apparently not worth mentioning. Now the weather is finally getting warm, but no one in the neighborhood can open windows due to noise and dust. We can’t work in our yards. We can’t hear ourselves think and some are reporting headaches. Town officials say that since the permits were issued, nothing can be done.

I invite all interested residents to come by Puffer’s during a weekday, anytime in the next few weeks, to see and hear for themselves what is happening and question how such major changes to our landscape and quality of life can be approved with so little public input.

Robin Morris lives in Amherst.