Five Colleges library facility facing zoning problems

Five Colleges Inc. says they’re considering an appeal

HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – The Five Colleges in Hampshire County have too many used library books, and they need a place to store them. Their proposal for a storage facility in Hadley isn’t sitting well with neighbors.

Right now, the colleges have about 600,000 books stored underground in a former military bunker on the Mount Holyoke range. It’s hard to access…and they’re running out of room.

The sound of birds and brush may soon be replaced by construction.

Five Colleges Inc. represents UMass, Amherst, Smith, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke. They want to build a large facility to store their unused library books on this residential-agricultural land between North Maple Street and High Meadow Road.

That’s right in the backyard of Nancy Bandman Boyle. “If they had originally cited this project on one of the campuses, we would not be having this discussion. The expenses would be kept to a minimum. There is land, it’s available. And that’s really where the library annex should be.”

Neal Abraham is the Executive Director of Five Colleges Inc. He told 22News why they chose the land. “Somewhere relatively centrally located is better than being at one campus, which puts them at greater distance from another campus. This is the most promising site of the ones that we have found.”

The issue going forward will be determining if this facility qualifies under the Dover amendment. It’s a Massachusetts general law that allows an education institution to bypass local zoning laws.

Clerk Bill Dwyer of the Hadley Planning Board said, “It just became more and more obvious that it’s a warehouse. Not a library annex. So under that basis we decided that they were not entitled to the benefit of the Dover amendment.”

Five Colleges Inc. says they’re considering an appeal, which means the fight to preserve this wildlife habitat may not be over.

Five Colleges has 20 days to file that appeal. They’ve promised to preserve as much conservation land as possible.

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