A Wrinkle in Legalese, Certificate of Appropriateness or Hardship?

Amherst Media in our attempt to build a new facility on our Main and Gray Street property has spent many months and thousands of dollars working closely with the Local Historic District Commission (LHDC) to produce a building that maximized design compatibility and minimized the location's impact on the surrounding neighborhood.  It was our hope those efforts would please the neighboring landowners, who instead filed an appeal to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, leaving us wondering what was the point of all that work by us and the members of the Commission.

In the appeal filed by the neighbors to the Pioneer Planning Commission, they cited an obscure legal provision requiring that the Local Historic District Commission issue a Certificate of Appropriateness decision within 60 days, unless the applicant (Amherst Media)  was asked and agreed to an extension in writing, which Amherst Media never was asked to do. 

The opponents have opened the legal doorway to obtain a Certificate of Hardship, that would have no attached conditions, as does the current Local Historic District Commission's decision.  Amherst Media’s  lawyer has advised us in the strongest possible terms, that we must pursue the legal path our opponents have shown us.

We are currently submitting, and  will present to the Amherst Planning Board the same project design that was approved by the Local Historic Commission.  It can be  assumed the neighbors will employ the same obstructive tactics when we go before the Planning Board, though we hope they do not challenge the submitted plans, but rather engage in constructive dialogue. 

If however the Court requires the LHDC to issue a Certificate of Hardship with no conditions, Amherst Media will have the option to modify our plans accordingly.