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Alton Acker: Beware Retreat process changing Amherst’s zoning forever

To the editor:

In regard to the permit process, and general overview of the proposed Retreat planning in Amherst, I’d like to mention that this concept is going to affect how those with a desire to build similar apartments in Amherst will be able to progress.

Not only is The Retreat a bad idea for housing students so far away from campus, and an impact on general living in Cushman, those developers and general contractors who would desire building any size “students only” apartment complexes in Amherst, will have the ability to do so.

In Amherst there is a bylaw, of which you may be aware, that does not permit construction of “dormitory” type buildings, except on a campus.

The property in question is zoned residential/outlying, not a student campus.

Up to now private builders have not been able to build dormitory type apartments in Amherst. If Landmark Properties is able to build cluster apartments, designated for students only, then this is a precedent-setting event that will mean that thereafter anyone will be able to build for students only, anywhere. This will be more than granting a single permit to build a general apartment complex.

So, as damaging as it will be if Landmark is allowed to build The Retreat, the far-reaching effects of granting the permit will change the climate of Amherst forever.

Alton Acker

Amherst

When student housing was being built in Amherst over the last 25 years, these people said nothing. Now that it is near them it is an outrage.

What development in North Amherst will teach us is that it is impossible, counter productive, and not our right to micromanage every single detail of zoning and growth. It happens naturally. We have the right to choose the furniture in our own living rooms, but our right to control every single small thing stops outside of its boundaries. Doing so makes us look like royalty, people who live on a different economic and cultural strata.

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