Southpoint eyes apartment expansion

  • A new building being proposed at Southpoint Apartments in South Amherst would contain 47 apartments. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

AMHERST — A new building containing 47 apartments, including six that will be set aside for low- and moderate-income families, is being planned at Southpoint Apartments in South Amherst.

The Zoning Board of Appeals next week will begin a hearing on plans from Yosrex Limited Partnership, of Wellesley Hills, to build a three-story, L-shaped building at the 266 East Hadley Road apartment complex.

The hearing will be held March 22 at 6 p.m. at Town Room at Town Hall.

Planning Director Christine Brestrup said Tuesday that as an expansion of a preexisting, nonconforming apartment complex, the project needs a special permit.

Such a project, built in 1968, would no longer be allowed by town zoning, because the residential-neighborhood zoning prohibits apartment complexes, and Amherst zoning doesn’t allow buildings to have more than 24 apartments.

The special permit will mandate inclusion of affordable units. The current 183 apartments, scattered among several buildings, already have 21 affordable units used by residents with federal section 8 vouchers.

The proposed building, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, would be built on a former tennis court, and set far off East Hadley Road and close to where Southpoint Drive intersects with Brittany Manor Drive, the road for the adjacent apartment complex, The Boulders. Brestrup said the building is distant from the nearest neighborhood with single-family homes, Whippletree Lane.

As part of the proposal, a new playground would be built, along with a patio area for barbecues and picnics.

“We as a staff made a point to provide some kind of recreational functions,” Brestrup said.

In January, the Planning Board endorsed the project, which was presented by attorney Thomas Reidy of Bacon Wilson, PC, of Amherst, and Carlos Nieto of Bekrshire Design Group of Northampton.

Planning Board member Gregory Stustsman said the project is appropriate in-fill development, a concept that is encouraged in the town’s master plan as a way to protect open space in outlying areas.

With plans for just 43 parking spaces, the applicant is seeking one waiver, from the town requirement of two parking spaces for each apartment. But Nieto told planners the complex is on the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus line and that many tenants use public transportation.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.