Five Colleges Inc. Appeals Hadley Planning Board’s Rejection on Decision to Build Library Annex

Katherine Hazen ’18
News Editor

After the Hadley Planning Board denied the Five Colleges Inc. request to build the Five College Library Annex between Rocky Hill Road and North Maple Street earlier last month, the corporation appealed the Board’s decision to the State Land Court.

The Five College Library Annex would shelve rarely circulating volumes that the on-campus libraries of the Five College Consortium do not have the capacity to store in a climate-controlled 74,000-square-foot space. The purchase and sale agreement for the 47-acre site in Hadley, which rests on vacant farmland, was signed in February 2015.

Last month, the Hadley Planning Board voted in a 3-2 decision that the proposed annex did not meet the “educational purpose” standard necessary to build under the Dover Amendment protection.

Prior to the decision, Five Colleges Inc. had reduced the intended size to its current state from 130,000-square-feet per the Board’s request.

“This structure would not be allowed in this agricultural residential district but for the Dover amendment; I am not convinced that a warehouse is an educational purpose within the meaning of Chapter 40A section 3,” William Dwyer, clerk of the Hadley Planning Board, said in his motion as the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported. “I appreciate the cooperation of the applicant to reduce the size of the project but we can’t get beyond the threshold question of whether this is an eligible project, and I do not believe it is because it is simply a warehouse.”

Dwyer declined to provide further comment for this story due to legal reasons.   

Five Colleges Inc. believes it has a strong case for appeal.

“While we remain alert to possible alternative locations, in over two years of investigations we did not find a site as suitable as this one and we do not expect to look seriously for alternative sites unless our appeal is denied,” said Executive Director of Five Colleges Abraham.  The proposed location is close to the University of Massachusetts – Amherst which would allow for the materials to be retrieved promptly for student and faculty use.   

The appeal process could take anywhere from six to eighteen months by current estimates.

The Five College Library Annex was scheduled to open late in the spring of 2016. The Five College Library Repository Collection currently fulfills a similar purpose, but can only house 560,000 volumes, and is nearly full.

“The projections from the campus libraries are that their needs for nearby off-site shelving for library materials over the next ten years would require shelving capacity for 2.0-2.2 million additional volumes, so we have designed the annex with a little bit of extra space – with capacity for 2.5 million volumes,” said Executive Director of Five Colleges Inc. Neal Abraham.   

The volumes in the annex will be available for inter-library loan and when necessary can be accessed on site.

“Arrangements can be made for library patrons to examine those materials in the annex which includes a small ‘study room’ for such purposes,” which is also true of the Repository Collection, Abraham said.

The Five College Board of Directors decided upon the plan for the annex at a meeting in May 2014, anticipating the needs of the libraries at Smith College and UMass Amherst.

Provost and Dean of Faculty Katherine Rowe said that as “Smith is still in the early planning stages of the library construction, there is time for Five Colleges to come to a resolution for the annex plan.”

One Comment

  1. charles payne says:

    Why cant they Build this on an existing campus instead of trying to bully a warehouse down the throat of a small farm town

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