David Sloviter: Brewer’s comments were shocking

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

It was shocking to see the comments made by Amherst At-Large Councilor Alisa Brewer when she said the public input against increased zoning density delivered the message that white homeowners in Amherst don’t want change.

“I understand fear is what is driving this,” she said. (“Council backs zoning priorities,” Jan. 8)

How dare she paint all opposition with that racist brush? She doesn’t know us or what motivates us because she doesn’t consider anything that she doesn’t like.

The stunning self-righteous arrogance of those remarks is counterproductive at best and incitingly divisive at worst. What nonsense. The opposition is not about race or fear of change. The only fear involved is fear of the effects of a narrow, rigid attitude that wants to impose its agenda.

The corruption of the process that results is where Amherst has made most of its zoning mistakes. It has ignored every commonsense argument about Kendrick Place and One East Pleasant and given the developers everything they want in a blind rush to build more residences.

The results are expensive student housing that did nothing to provide affordable housing units or bring residents to the downtown who will support businesses other than bars and pizza. Misrepresentation prevailed and was rewarded.

Too often Amherst Town Council holds hearings but actually hear nothing unless it supports the opinions the councilors bring to the meeting. No wonder the public is so discouraged about these “hearings.” Why bother if nothing is heard and nothing draws a considered response?

Those of us in opposition don’t expect to always get our way but we would like to be heard and considered with open minds, without being labeled as racists to make it easier to dismiss us. Change is inevitable and lots of white people welcome change that is based on fact, reason, and inclusiveness in spite of what Ms. Brewer claims.

We don’t fear the effects of change. We fear the effects of arrogance.

David SloviteR