The first is about zoning priorities and is very important to us all. Come at 6:30 sharp, 

for the meeting is only 15 minutes long. Details follow.


New Year’s Eve Letter to My Constituents in District 3

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am wishing all of us a happier, safer, and saner year in 2021. We are not yet at a turning point, but in the long moments before the turning point, when we must redouble our vigilance and keep up the safe practices that have kept this small part of the world relatively safe.


I’m proud of the friendly spirit that has people continue to reach out and do the small acts of kindness that make this a neighborhood– bringing hot meals to those who are ill, shopping and doing errands for others, leaving the little gifts of homemade cookies on the porch, and waving and giving masked greetings as you walk by. I am still learning how many of you have played leading roles as volunteers on Town Meeting and major committees, developing and spearheading needed new programs such as the Rental Registration program, the Local Historic District, the Amherst Land Trust, etc., and working for so many other programs such as national health care, fair elections, and racial justice. I feel lucky to be representing such an eclectic, enterprising, civic minded, inclusive, and creative group of people.


So it is very  upsetting to me to hear our quiet tree-lined streets, houses both large and small, quaint and historic, our lawns, bushes, flowers, our signs of welcome, our private and shared spaces, our little sidewalk libraries, our mix of teachers, writers, students, therapists, researchers, children, business owners, artists, workers, technicians, carpenters, translators, innovators, retired people (many on fixed income), utopians, dreamers, and our traditions of sharing, leading, and innovating  being described as elitist and segregationist because we are rising to protect and defend our historic neighborhood. Many residents bought their houses long ago for a fraction of their present assessed value, yet we all tighten our belts and continue to pay our ever-rising property taxes because we value our homes and living in this town. You do not hear us complaining, we just try to do more with less.


We are being gnawed at from the edges by absentee landlords who forgo all repairs when they rent to students, by tall UMass buildings soon coming on the north and east which will block the light as the two buildings on North Pleasant cast shadows over the park. We feel threatened from the east as plans are in the air to replace the west side of Kendrick Park with more concrete blocks and to shut down the small local businesses which now are our reason for going to the downtown center. Of course, the phrase “protecting our neighborhood” has been used by some segregationists in the past, but to say that our desire now in 2021 to guard against rampant development is racist is a deliberate act of knowing character assassination. Come and see who we are and say that to our faces! I throw down my gloves at that.

Most of us are not against development, but at present lack the trust to believe that a movement that prizes density above all else understands what really makes a home, a community, a place where people can live and thrive together. Prizing buildings with no shared or individual greenspace, not even balconies, is warehousing people. We do not want to live outside of nature, but within it, part of our living urban forest that makes our breathing easier. When our great oak fell over in the August windstorm, so many people came over to pay their respects to its majestic self. We will miss the peace that sitting beneath its strong arms brought, its natural cooling of our whole house so that there was no need for air conditioning. That’s what trees do, cooling and cleansing the air in addition to their aesthetic and spiritual support!


It won’t be long before we will have been a year in quarantine; we bless every inch of green space both private and shared that has helped us survive this year with optimism, health, and the desire to still accomplish great things. Our aim is not to shut people out, but to insist that safe, decent, and affordable housing be built that brings these natural benefits so important to human beings to other people as well. This can be done with thoughtful zoning changes which allow for a broader mix of housing types and lot sizes, but that work with, not against, nature. We must protect our trees, our green spaces, our setbacks, and calm walkways to bring these necessary blessings to more people. This, with our sidewalks being finally repaired, will create the walkable streets so praised by planners.



P.S. The motion on the table is not to make the zoning changes, but to formally state that the Town Council is in favor of these zoning changes and wants the Planning staff to write new zoning regulations which will come up for a later vote. But many of us think this is just a way for the camel to get its nose into the tent—to say, “well the Town Council voted for this….” Nowhere in this list of priorities is a commitment to adding inclusionary zoning now, town wide, or to providing more meaningful public input. The Master Plan is portrayed as being concerned only with density and more housing units—note I did not say homes for families. In fact, one aim of this motion is to remove the requirement that apartment buildings must have units of varied sizes; that will permit more buildings with small units all of the same size—does that sound a bit like a dorm? Does that sound like housing for a diverse group of people including families? These changes will remove requirements about the ratio of buildings to lot size or coverage. Will their replacement regulations leave any setbacks, courtyards, green spaces? Where are the Master Plan statements about protecting and preserving the existing neighborhood character, maintaining some New England and small town flavor?


Monday January 4, 2020             6:30 SHARP Meeting is scheduled for only 15 minutes!!!!

MEETING #1 of the 3 meetings of the Town Council on January 4th

Special Meeting of the Town Council 
6:30–6:45 pm
Virtual Meeting: https://amherstma.zoom.us/j/83367457311

Live Broadcast on Amherst Media Channel 17 and live stream:


  1. Call to Order
  2. Action Item
  3. Zoning Priorities

1) Vote on motion on the table.    This motion has been made and seconded; Councilor DuMont used Charter Sec. 2.10(c) Right to postpone the vote until the next regular or special Council meeting. This motion is now on the table.

MOTION: To direct the Town Manager to present zoning amendments that promote diverse neighborhoods, affordable housing, and new growth in downtown and village centers, in accordance with Town Council annual Policy Goal III Economic Vitality, in the following time periods:

  • by March 15, 2021:

Adding B-L District to footnote b
Adding footnote a to maximum lot coverage and maximum building coverage
Propose a revised SDU bylaw, similar to the 2018 Town Meeting proposal
Demolition Delay bylaw revisions
Work with the Council to begin a conversation on housing types expansion, in preparation for meeting the September 1, 2021 priorities below
Move apartments to SPR in more zoning districts
Remove Footnote m
Revise the Apartments definition

  • by September 1, 2021:

Dimensional regulations in the R-G and R-VC
Lowering barriers to development of duplexes and triplexes
Frontage regulations for Residential zones
Look at appropriateness of Use Table for V-C: What kinds of businesses are allowed or encouraged in V-C districts – food, entertainment, services – things that make community and meet basic needs, within walking distance
Transportation issues (may not be zoning)

  • Use of Consultant money:

Form based zoning / design guidelines Motion by: Hanneke, seconded by: Ryan

To join the Council meeting via Zoom teleconferencing: Go to https://amherstma.zoom.us/j/83367457311

To join the Council meeting via telephone:
Call (646) 876-9923 or (312) 626-6799 Enter webinar ID when prompted: 833 6745 7311
When prompted to enter your participant number press # 

There will be no public comment at this Special Town Council meeting. 

Tune in. An Important vote is scheduled. New: If you watch on Amherst Media, you can see the list of attendees. Read letters from Suzannah Fabing Muspratt of North Prospect Street, and of Pam Rooney and Elizabeth Vierling of Cottage Street attached.


MEETING #2   Special Meeting of the Town Council and Finance Committee—Public Forum for Appropriation not in the budget to acquire the Belchertown Road Property for Community Housing Purposes

6:45—7:00pm Monday January 4th
Special Meeting of the Town Council and Finance Committee Public Forum Regarding an Appropriation Not in the Annual Budget Monday, January 4, 2020    6:45 p.m.


Virtual Meeting: https://amherstma.zoom.us/j/83367457311

Live Broadcast on Amherst Media Channel 17 and live stream:



Call to Order

  1. Presentations and Discussion
  2. Council Order FY21-#21-08A: An Order Authorizing the Acquisition of Belchertown Road Property for Community Housing Purposes
  3. Public Comment – More than one-half of the meeting time on the agenda will be devoted to public comment
  4. Public Forum – Charter Sec. 5.6 – Regarding an appropriation outside the annual budget: Council Order FY21-08A: An Order Authorizing the Acquisition of Belchertown Road Property for Community Housing Purposes

Residents are welcome to express their views for up to 3 minutes. The Council will not engage in a dialogue or comment on a matter raised during public comment.

MEETING #3 Town Council Meeting 7:00 pm Regular Town Council Meeting

See the agenda, which includes Council elections for President and Vice-President, on town website.