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Amherst apartment building developers ask to use town right of way 

  • Amherst Town Hall

By SCOTT MERZBACH
Published: 5/23/2020 1:29:09 PM

AMHERST — A development team that intends to build a mixed-use building at the intersection of Route 9 and University Drive is asking to use a town right of way to make the project work.

The Town Council received a request last week for changes to the right of way from the principals of UDrive South LLC, Amherst developer Barry Roberts, and J. Curtis Shumway, president of Hampshire Hospitality Group, to accommodate a four-story building, with 72 apartments and a ground-level medical office, at the southwest corner of the intersection.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said the impact on the town streets, which requires council action to be approved, include installing parking along a section of what is known as University Drive South, and the construction of a roundabout where University Drive turns into Snell Street.

All costs of the work would be covered by the developer.

A favorable decision is needed before the project can break ground, said Thomas Reidy, an attorney with Bacon Wilson PC.

The 13,120-square-foot building would include entirely studio and one-bedroom apartments, nine of which would be affordable, and 4,710 square feet of commercial space for the ophthalmologist practice.

UDrive South LLC is the second developer in recent weeks to request a town right of way use. Amir Mikhchi, who is building the South East Commons at 133 and 143 South East St., would use the right of way as a place with walkways and benches. That request was referred to the Town Services and Outreach subcommittee for study and a report back in June.

Councilors appeared to be more favorable to the UDrive South LLC request, with At Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke saying she wouldn’t support a delay in the approval process.

District 2 Councilor Pat DeAngelis said the site is an underutilized area of town and could mean needed affordable housing. “This is an excellent use of this corner,” DeAngelis said.

At-Large Councilor Alisa Brewer said in her decade-plus on the Select Board and Town Council, she had never seen a request for such extensive use of the town right of way. 

Town Council President Lynn Griesemer said the council could vote to approve the request at its June 1 meeting or refer the matter to the Town Services and Outreach subcommittee.

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


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