For the second time, demolished Amherst barn ruled historically insignificant by town Historical Commission
AMHERST — The Historical Commission again ruled this week that a barn associated with Robert Frost was not historically significant enough to impose a year-long demolition delay.
The barn at 290 Lincoln Ave. was torn down in November by owner You-Pan Tzeng of Longmeadow after the commission made the same decision last fall. Neighbors had appealed the ruling before Tzeng removed the barn.
The latest ruling was made after a second hearing that ran over two days, after the commission was asked by the Zoning Board of Appeals to render a second decision, which considered the case in December.
The barn was once owned by Warren Brown, a man who was friends with the famed poet.
“No one can accuse us of not doing our due diligence,” said commission chairman Michael Hanke, who estimated the board spent six hours taking testimony from aggrieved neighbors and discussing the historical merits of the barn at three meetings since September.
In addition, members did independent research into both the history of the barn and the legacy of Warren Brown, Hanke said.
Hanke said the additional information before the commission centered on Brown, a real estate agent, newspaper columnist and author of manuscripts. “He doesn’t have any parallel living in town today,” Hanke said.
But Brown’s fame wasn’t enough to make the barn historically important.
For neighbors, it’s a disappointing result that might have been different if all information gathered by neighbors over the last six months had been presented in September, when the commission made its decision, Jennifer Taub of 259 Lincoln Ave. said in an email.
But she said neighbors want Tzeng to keep the former barn’s site as an open area, as he has said he will.
“We can only hope that the present owner of 290 Lincoln Ave. lives up to his word to replace the barn with a garden and not a parking lot and/or pre-fabricated student motel,” Taub said.
Tzeng and the limited liability companies he runs purchased 290 Lincoln Ave., as well as 321 and 328 Lincoln Ave., and 42 Shumway St., 300 West St. and 695-697 Main St. in 2012. Many of these now serve as rentals for students.
Hanke said Tzeng’s actions have had unintended consequences by sparking a push for a new local historic district designation to give residents more control over what happens to properties they live near.