Weekly Feature

2014-07-30 / Letters to the Editor

Building height, limits come too late

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 approved Iskalo’s request, appearing blind to the facts and deaf to the community.

The massive hotel is more than six stories high and was shoehorned into an undersized, irregularly shaped lot. The project was approved by the Town Board and Planning Board and given nine variances from the Zoning Board. The building permit was issued, and it was a done deal.

Although the Town Board did nothing to change this mega-sized hotel, it 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. Last week, a resolution was passed, titled “Protecting Residential Properties,” to change the setback requirement for commercial buildings, such as the distance a hotel can be from housing.

The Iskalo Hyatt is set back 65 feet. The new rules would require a setback of more than 200 feet. A setback of 66 feet would have pushed the Iskalo Hyatt off the parcel.

Thus, the Hyatt project would have died. So, thanks, Town Board, but you are a year late in doing your job.

Michele Marconi
Livingston Parkway

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