Lincoln Avenue barn at center of demolition-delay controversy in Amherst torn down
AMHERST — Despite efforts to save a century-old barn in the yard of a rental house on Lincoln Avenue, the building was torn down Wednesday morning.
DMO Construction of Amherst was on the site early in the morning with a tractor to demolish the building, two days after Building Commissioner Robert Morra issued a demolition permit to property owner You-Pan Tzeng.
By early afternoon, all remnants of the barn were gone, hauled away in 30-foot containers, though not before onlookers, including Paige Wilder of 73 Fearing St., shot video, titling it “dump truck hauls history away.”
Maurianne Adams of Beston Street, a member of the Coalition of Amherst Neighborhoods, said in an email that the demolition marks a continued erosion in confidence for residents in functioning of town government.
“The hearings worked in such a way that the neighborhood got handed off from one commission or group to another, each with its own quite limited regulations and each equally helpless to take concrete action or provide for delay,” Adams said.
Adams said some have mistakenly portrayed opposition to the removal of the barn as being against students, due to neighborhood concerns over the increase in rental properties in town.
“We are trying to preserve the historical, lovely, truly intergenerational, mixed-use neighborhood for families, children and grown-ups, students, in a balance whereby everyone can enjoy the neighborhood and have a good quality of life,” Adams said.
There has been speculation among neighbors that Tzeng may subdivide the property and put a larger house on the property that could become a second rental. Tzeng could not be reached for comment.
Neighbors filed an appeal of the demolition permit with the town clerk’s office Monday, which will be brought to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a hearing at a later date. They contend the process was flawed and that not all abutters were notified about the Historical Commission’s demolition delay hearing.
It’s unclear what would happen if the Zoning Board finds in favor of the neighbors or whether there would be repercussions for the property owner for removing the barn.
Senior Planner Jeffrey Bagg said he couldn’t comment on the appeal other than stating that a date for a hearing has not yet been scheduled.