Neighbors appeal permit for Amherst Media HQ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/11/2020 10:50:16 PM

AMHERST — A decision allowing Amherst Media to proceed with its plans for building a new headquarters on Main Street is being appealed by neighbors.

On Wednesday, Harmsway LLC, whose principals are Robert Speiser and Anthony Brackett, joined by eight other parties, filed a notice of appeal of the Local Historic District Commission’s decision granting a certificate of appropriateness to Amherst Media. The organization oversees public access, educational and government television channels for the town and broadcasts numerous public meetings and local programs.

The Historic District Commission’s decision was needed before site plans could be reviewed by the Planning Board for the 4,225-square-foot building at the corner of Gray and Main streets.

Speiser, who lives at the Henry Hills House at 38 Gray St., said the draft of the appeal is still being written.

Neighbors have long objected to the size and scale of the building as being inappropriate for its surroundings, including mostly single-family homes, and its visual impact on the lawn in front of the Henry Hills House.

The appeal would begin with arbitration overseen by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. If this doesn’t resolve the matter, legal action could follow in Hampshire Superior Court.

In January, the commission voted 5-0 to issue a certificate of appropriateness for the 1½-story building, with 14 conditions.

Gillen Collaborative Architects created the plans for the $1.3 million building that would rise on a half-acre-plus parcel owned by Amherst Media.

The project would be the first new building in the Emily Dickinson Local Historic District since the district was created in 2012.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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