Weekly Feature

2006-04-05 / Editorial

Bee Editorial

Promote responsible redevelopment in Eggerstville, Snyder

The Eggertsville and Snyder areas are ripe with redevelopment potential. Old buildings

with hardwood floors, fireplaces, and wood molding abound. As does vacant office space and empty retail areas.

The old houses and vacant store fronts are crying out, begging for someone to come in and make them sing with life.

A supportive measure would be to aggressively encourage developers to look to this area to create new office space or demand that those who own empty space, fill it or rehabilitate it to make it marketable before allowing them to build elsewhere.

It can happen, but officials need to take a strong, yet somewhat flexible position. Supervisor Satish Mohan proposed creating some guidelines for developers to follow - a plan that would, according to the resolution, institute annual limits on construction of new housing and commercial space in Amherst. The resolution, which was approved, asks the planning director and town attorney to develop recommendations for the plan's implementation.

While we applaud the supervisor's attempt to promote redevelopment in the Eggerstville and Snyder areas, we question the idea of limiting the number of homes and commercial spaces that can be built.

The town already has a master plan - which was accepted but never adopted - and is soon expected to adopt a newly amended zoning code. This new code contains new classifications, such as the Traditional Neighborhood District, which will encourage redevelopment and make it easier for developers.

And while some people question the work and idea of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, one of the organization's main goals is the redevelopment of Eggertsville and Snyder. And they put their money where their mouth is by investing in an old farm house at Main Street and Berryman Drive and converting it into their headquarters rather than taking space in a new office park.

We like the idea of a plan to help developers, but rather than impose limits, we think the town should try to work with the AIDA, and both should aggressively promote revitalization rather than greenfield development. We understand that not every business would fit there. Obviously, a GEICO isn't an appropriate development for Eggertsville. But developers need to start looking at rehabbing older buildings and leasing that space rather than building on raw land. And the town and AIDA need to help turn the developers' gazes from the open space in North Amherst to the fabulous buildings available in the southwestern parts of Amherst. The plan is a start, but cut the limits, work with developers and ask town staff to recommend ways to promote redevelopment.

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