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Controlling development, preserving green space and lowering the tax burden emerged as the key themes of last year's town vision summits, Amherst officials say.

The town's Planning Department compiled the comments and suggestions of more than 600 residents who attended the summit meetings.

According to the department's report, nearly 40 percent cited "controlling development" and "creating a master plan" as their top concerns.

Supervisor Susan J. Grelick called that sentiment "the runaway winner" among resident concerns.

Of the residents who cited taxes as their chief concern, more than two-thirds urged a reduction.

"If you can't afford to live here, the rest of it doesn't make any difference," said Council Member William L. Kindel.

Preserving green space was cited by half the residents when they were asked to name one thing they wanted to preserve in Amherst.

Eight summit meetings were held last year, and town officials heard 1,700 responses
concerning hundreds of issues.

Town officials were given the summary report this week.

"I think it's a valuable tool," said Council Member Daniel J. Ward. "But it's a little like a Town Board meeting. It's subject to whoever shows up."

Ward said he was interested in pursuing a townwide survey that would be more statistically valid.

Ms. Grelick said she would like to sponsor at least one summit each year in the town.

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