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"Dissension is not an attack..."

The below was posted on Facebook by long-time Amherst resident Linda Kaiser, who has served on the Planning Board and has long-standing relationships with current members. Linda has allowed us to re-post here, she brings up many good points.


"I served on the planning board with Sally for ten years and she is most certainly a wealth of knowledge and I love her, thank her, and respect her for her many years of service. Having said that, no board in this town should be anyone’s life work, and that is what a few have become. Yes, there is a learning curve. It is not unlike any new job that one might have. The rules are in writing, they are not difficult to read and comprehend, any more than reading any textbook. No board should be the life’s work of a few people. In large part, that is what is wrong with the federal government. It has become the life work of a few. This is not healthy. Community spirit is developed by many having an opportunity to serve, not by having a few serve for 20 or 30 years. What I find generally missing is for the board to pay attention to the context in which the rules were written. By that, I mean the preface to the zoning ordinance and the Master Plan. It is unfortunate that the Chair feels attacked, as dissension is not attack. For him to complain about feeling mistreated after so many years of public service without pay, and he finds that insulting to him, indicates the wrong attitude. Serving without pay is the job. If people serve without pay willingly, they cannot complain if some in the community disagrees with them. That is just the way it is. I noticed on the Amherst for anybody page, in the comments, remarks about the number of hours the board works, how hard people work, twice a month. During the time I was on the board, we met weekly, frequently till midnight. It is a big commitment and needs to be made by those who truly have the time to give those hours.

That a volunteer puts in those hours does not mean they can ignore public input or feel sorry in public for how hard they work. If that is the case, all the more reason to step down. I feel that any board can be elected. The ZBA is elected, the Selectman are elected and if the voter becomes dissatisfied they vote them out. It is much like our elected state and national officials. If current members wish to continue there is no reason not to stand for election. Maybe an elected board will work and maybe it won’t, but something must happen that the board becomes more responsive to the community. Every developer in this county has a running conversation about the boards they encounter. They talk about how easy or tough boards are to push through their projects. All planning should be done while keeping in mind what will be possible as other projects come forth or we could be in serious trouble buying schools and fire trucks. I discovered this evening that if everything passes, an average house will have an increase in taxes of $504 on a $353,000 property.

For our house that is a percentage increase of 5.2 percent. That is an outrageous amount, given our current experience of inflation much lower than this number. I think the town does a generally good job but we have an out of control school situation that has been so for many years. There seems to be nothing to which we can say no for our children. It is not the duty of a town to try to justify these taxes to increase our property values. Unlike many, who move here for their schools and move on when their kids graduate, we did not buy our house to sell it, we bought it to live in it."

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