July 26, 2014
Town Board was no help on key Iskalo decisions
Last summer, the frenzy about the Iskalo Hyatt peaked.
Amherst officials worked on the Hyatt for 18 months, in secret, and sprung it on the community with five days notice. The town’s boards held the minimum number of meetings required and promptly, without discussion, approved every Iskalo request, blind to the facts and deaf to the community. The massive 6-plus story hotel, shoehorned into an undersized irregularly shaped lot, was rubber stamped by the Town Board and Planning Board and given nine variances from the Zoning Board. The building permit was issued. Done deal.
The Town Board did nothing to change this mega-sized hotel. Their only voices were to blame other town committees. They did agree to study what the appropriate building height might be and how future commercial buildings should be sited next to housing.
The town’s “height committee” has been meeting for a year. No public notices. No minutes. But their secret discussions just became public. This week a resolution was passed, titled “Protecting Residential Properties,” to change the setback requirement for commercial buildings, like the distance a hotel can be from housing.
The Iskalo Hyatt is set back 65 feet. The new rules would require a setback of 225 feet. A set back of 66 feet would have pushed the Iskalo Hyatt off the parcel.
And the project would have died.
So thanks, Town Board. But you are a year late in doing your job.
It’s too little. Too late.
Michele F. Marconi