Hadley developer can sell homes, lots in Amherst subdivision


Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

AMHERST — Three homes and six building lots in the Amherst Hills housing subdivision can be sold after a Hadley developer extricated his properties from a lawsuit against its 50 homeowners and landowners.

Though previously subject to the lawsuit, which was filed in state Land Court last fall, Ronald Bercume of Hadley said he was recently able to settle with Tofino Associates, also of Hadley.

Bercume wouldn’t elaborate, other than to say that “I bought my way out of this.”

Tofino filed the lawsuit with an aim to protect its ability to construct homes or sell nine lots in the development, located near the Belchertown town line.

In the lawsuit, Tofino Associates has sought nonbinding arbitration or mediation through the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts. The company filed the lawsuit after neighbors urged the Amherst Planning Board to rescind a May 2019 decision that released 13 Tofino lots. The neighbors had argued that Tofino should be required to address the deteriorating condition of subdivision roads, including Linden Ridge, Hawthorn Road and Concord Way.

While not rescinding the release, the Planning Board instead directed the building commissioner not to issue any new building permits or water and sewer connections to Tofino for nine of the 13 lots it wanted to develop, until the roads were fixed.

In January, Amherst officials received a letter from Michael Pill, a lawyer with Green, Miles, Lipton LP of Northampton, on behalf of Tofino, informing the town that the roadwork will be finished by the end of 2020.

The Department of Public Works had notified residents that the continued plowing and winter road maintenance in the subdivision would end if extensive potholes aren’t repaired and drainage issues with the roads aren’t fixed.

A $288,000 bond held by Greenfield Savings Bank will go toward this work.

Amherst Planning Director Christine Brestrup said town planners have taken no actions on the subdivision in recent weeks and are not involved in the lawsuit.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.