Pam Rooney


Independent Thinker for District 4

Read Pam's article in the Amherst Indy

Opinion: A Vision for Housing in Amherst - Amherst Indy

We envision for Amherst the energy of a robust student population in a healthy balance with a diverse population of year-round residents. Is this a vision shared by all?

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Why vote for ME

As your Council Representative for nearly two years, I understand the pressures facing our district. Comprised of dense neighborhoods built largely before 1950, District 4 surrounds the downtown business district and is adjacent to the UMass campus.Homes here are often large and frequently multi-unit; they are highly desirable for families but are also under intense pressure to house the many students unable to find rooms on campus. During my term on Town Council, I have worked to protect the quality of life of our neighborhoods by:

  1. Co-sponsoring an updated rental registration bylaw and regulations, with an improved nuisance property by-law. This legislation will improve the health and safety of our rental resources and reduce negative impacts on neighborhoods. With Councilor Taub, as well as Hanneke and Miller, I asked for the Council to send this project to the Community Resources Committee (CRC). Councilor Taub and I both represent District 4 on the CRC, so our perspective on rental property management is first-hand, given the number of non-owner-occupied rentals. After 16 months of deliberation by the CRC and with significant input from property managers, owners, tenants, and neighbors, the CRC unanimously recommended the by-law to the Council for adoption. All rentals will need to pass a Town inspection to maintain a permit, which should be an improvement to the health and safety of all tenants.
  2. Updating and strengthening our Nuisance Property bylaw. For all neighborhoods with growing numbers of student rental homes in their midst, an upgrade of our Nuisance Property bylaw is also a critical part of any rental registration upgrade. This Nuisance bylaw gives more teeth to town officials to deny rental permits for properties with multiple nuisance violations. The CRC is also working on this. I continue to push hard to keep the cap of 4 unrelated occupants as the standard.
  3. The 2010 Masterplan says we should add density to the downtown and village centers, while protecting and enhancing the historic character of the town and our strong neighborhoods. We can do both! We don’t want to treat District 4 as just a transitional area for increased student housing opportunities.

    Development can be a win-win, not always putting the Town on the losing end.  A building that contributes to the character and vitality of downtown – with active street fronts, historic shop facades, and attractive public spaces – pays the same taxes as a building that does none of these things. In the long run, positive development will continue to draw people to Amherst.

    Village Centers offer some opportunity to create commercial hubs with a concentration of housing around them. I encourage the Planning Board to sink their teeth into this idea.
  4. Zoning plays a huge role in any win-win scenario, including strengthening the Village Centers. Let’s put a strong VISION and design guidelines in place before zoning changes are made.  I do not support loosening the permitting process for multi-unit housing since much of the new housing is being developed and marketed to students at extreme rental prices that families cannot afford. Abutter notice of upcoming development is critical for that very reason.

    Proposed zoning changes need careful analysis, so they support rather than undermine the vision.  Sadly, some members of the current Council are pushing forward a significant number of zoning changes in a vacuum – no vision and no careful planning.  These changes affect the look and feel of our Town Centers and all residential neighborhoods – especially those in District 4!  I promise to continue focusing my planning background and my 6 years on the Planning Board on positive solutions!
  5. Supporting other key elements that make the town desirable:
    • Walkable and bike-safe access to downtown amenities.
    • Reasonable lighting levels along connections between residential areas and town and village centers.
    • Increasing funding available for sidewalk and street repair. As a member of the JCPC, I advocated to put more funding into this category, to supplement the State funds which have remained at 2012 levels for 10+ years! I also advocated to increase the budget for tree planting and maintenance, to help meet Green Goals.
  6. Access to Council deliberations. I want to improve access for everyone, not restrict it.  I want you to be heard when you try to contribute! I want to make sure you have a Council that listens.
  7. Supporting creation of a solar by-law that will guide the placement of crucial solar fields.

Click below to watch the League of Women Voters October 5th Amherst Candidate Forum.

**District 4 candidates answer questions in minutes 1:04 – 1:08, 18 – 23, and 44 – 49.

I have actively engaged in keeping public attention on zoning changes promoted by the Council.
The overarching point is that we should agree on a direction before we change zoning.

It’s the people who make a community!
What are YOUR concerns?
Contact me through the form below.

Opinion piece in Amherst Bulletin: Let’s do it right!

Letter: Let’s Build – In A Way That’s Good For Amherst! – Amherst Indy

Plan First/Zone Second: Letter to Town Council – March 2021

Letter: Plan First, Zoning Second – Amherst Indy

Better Planning please: letter to Town Council - March 2021

Letter: Broader Planning Needed In Lieu Of Miscellaneous Zoning Changes – Amherst Indy

Where’s the public input? Indy article – January 2020

Letter: Proposed Changes To Zoning Priorities Require Community Impact Review – Amherst Indy