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Select Board approves new cab company at Monday meeting

A new all-hybrid vehicle cab service is headed to Amherst.

Members of the town’s Select Board last night approved an application allowing The Green Cab Company, a subsidiary of the Peter Pan Bus Lines, to bring its fleet to town. The decision, which was unanimously approved by all board members — with the exception of member Alisa Brewer, who was absent — came after Paul Lemieux, a representative of the company, gave a brief oral presentation during a public hearing Monday night.

The service, which formed after the company bought two small area taxi services, has already been operating in Northampton, Lemieux said.

“It’s just been a very, very positive experience in the Northampton area,” said Lemieux.

And, Lemieux noted, since the business has been well-received in Northampton, it was an easy decision to bring the service across the Pioneer Valley to Amherst.

“It’s difficult to do business in Northampton and not Amherst,” Lemieux said.

The service’s fleet, Lemieux noted, consists of a few hybrid Ford Escape SUVs and one Ford passenger van.

Since the business is based in Northampton, in order to comply with regulations, it will keep its publicly accessible records for Amherst on file at Amherst Books.

After Lemieux gave his presentation, he received praise form some board members for operating an environmentally-friendly transportation service.

“I think it’s really great that [you’re] using hybrid vehicles,” said board member Diana Stein.

Additionally, board members also unanimously approved of license applications for a slew of the service’s drivers to operate in town.

Elsewhere, Town Manager John Musante gave Select Board members a brief recap of discussions that took place at a recent Amherst Redevelopment Authority meeting on the Gateway project — a proposal between the town and the University of Massachusetts that involves the possible developing of the area that comprised the former fraternity row into housing, and other possible commercial enterprises.

After Musante gave a brief outline of the key points he and UMass Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon raised at the meeting — noting that the next step in the project is engaging counseling from a consultant — board members briefly mulled over the matter.

“This is the kind of project that makes … Amherst more attractive than another state university [town],” said board member Aaron Hayden.

Select Board Chair Stephanie O’Keeffe said she felt the ARA meeting was a “real turning point” in the matter, noting that some town residents had fears they wouldn’t get much of a say in the process. She added that she feels Musante helped slow the process down when he became town manager last October.

“I think that people will really be engaged in this in a real way,” said O’Keeffe.

Hayden added his assessment of the meeting, saying he felt it helped clarify some conclusion about the whole process.

After O’Keeffe noted that the Select Board has been pressed to issue a consensus on the situation, her fellow members gave her the go-ahead to draft a document that would reflect their sentiment — which, last night, appeared mostly positive toward the development.

In other business, Select Board members also granted a license to Green River Ambrosia that would allow they company to sell and give out sampling of wine at a weekly farmer’s market.  Also, Musante noted that town still has about $68,000 left in its budget for snow removal.

William Perkins can be reached at wperkins@student.umass.edu.

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