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Amherst MA: A New Village Plan for Atkins Corner - page 8 / 13





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Smart Growth Leadership Case Library

Community Process. To bring the community into the decision-making process as soon as possible, Dodson Associates set up a series of three public “workshops,” over the course of five months. For these meetings, LaCour made certain specifically to invite the persons who had participated most vocally at earlier meetings.

The first workshop included presentations by the Dodson team on site analysis and various approaches to developing it. Fully a third of the four hour-long meeting was devoted to questions and concerns from community members and stakeholders.The team outlined issues of stormwater management, traffic calming, and building styles that might be acceptable. They asked the public to comment on what places in the region they liked and didn’t like. Amherst’s town center was a high favorite, as were two other areas with a traditional town common. Low on the list was the relatively new Pomeroy section, a sprawling development a mile and a half north of Atkins Corner.

Desired uses for Atkins Corner were identified, including cafés, a bike shop, art studios, a movie theater, bookstores, and a hardware store. Undesired uses were bars, pizza shops, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, and “boutiques.” There was general agreement that fake vernacular buildings were unacceptable, as were buildings higher than three stories. Participants were also vocal in their desire for the inclusion of bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly design elements along the redesigned roads, and for continued and improved bus service.

Two voices of protest continued to sound at this time, one from residents of Applewood and single-family homeowners in the neighborhood. Applewood residents were specifically concerned about their views of the Holyoke range; all were concerned about the nature of the area changing. Some of the working group later took it upon themselves to meet with concerned neighbors separately, to listen to and try to assuage their fears. Robert Grose, a working-group member, held several meetings with the Applewood residents separately.

A second voice of protest came from those concerned about the environmental impact of development. Considering the large amount of conserved wetlands in the area, the Town’s conservation department worried about the impact of stormwater runoff, the impermeable surfacing that would occur on the site, and the impact on protected species


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