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Curran Highway Zoning Change Set Aside

Tammy Daniels

Bart Raser of Carr Hardware tells of the Planning Board of his plans to relocate the business to Route 2.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A proposal to rezone a section of land along the Hoosic River was put on the backburner on Monday night over concerns it would limit business opportunities on State Street.

Charles Fox, owner of the former K-K Home Mart property at 420 Curran Highway had applied to have the parcel under one zoning. It is currently split east/west as commercial (CC1) and industrial. Building Inspector William Meranti had suggested in March the strip of industrial zoning along the river be rezoned as CC1 from the Noel Field Athletic Complex to Foundry Road to prevent spot zoning.

"The purpose is to move that CC line back to the river so additional uses that are allowed in that zone can be allowed in the entire property," Meranti told a joint public hearing of the Planning Board and City Council.

Fox said he was looking to develop the property more along the lines of a human service hub, considering among its current tenants are a Berkshire Family and Individual Resources' program and United Cerebral Palsy. 

"We thought it might possibly include a residential component," said Fox. He referred to studio living space for those "not historically artists" who may be unable to move into the Eclipse Mill. "I believe we could apply with a residential permit but in the case of a CC zone, we could do that by right." 

However, Paul Cummings, representing McGill Properties Inc., said changing the industrial zone would have a negative affect on its property, specifically the building behind the radio station that had been leased by Verizon. 

Charles Fox wants his Curran Highway property rezoned to all commercial to allow more opportunities for mixed commercial and residential. A section of it is now zoned industrial. The board suggested he return with a legal option.
 

"We really have no interest in a zoning change ... period," he said. "It would reduce the value of our property. We aren't interested in residential. We have not been marketing it in that sense, we have been marketing it for commercial and industrial."

The loss of industrial zoning would limit the building's possible uses for light or heavy manufacturing, packaging, distribution and truck delivery, or contracting and building trades, Cummings continued.

David Moresi of Moresi & Associates, who is currently managing the building, said he would no longer be interested in purchasing the property because he wouldn't be able to base his electrical division and other contracting there.

"I feel the change would be counterproductive," he said. "Our industrial zoned areas are very, very valuable to us. We're always talking about getting manufacturing in the area ... changing these parcels will make it hard to bring that in here."

"We don't have a problem changing Charlie's property, but don't touch ours," said Cummings.

Fox said his attorneys believed that since part of his property fell within the CC1 zone, it could be extended east to the river without being spot zoning.

Board Chairman Michael Leary said he didn't think the board should vote on a recommendation for the City Council to act on; Fox asked if the application could be withdrawn or tabled. The board agreed to set it aside and invited Fox to submit a legal basis for changing the zoning only on his property.

"I think we would need a legal opinion on what that change would require," said Leary.

In other business:

• The board swiftly approved an application by Carr Hardware to relocate to the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road. "I think it's an outstanding use for that property," said Leary.

• An application by Dana Ritcher to operate a garage on Ashland Street in an I-1 zone was continued pending the written intent of Ritcher to withdraw his application.

• Renee and Mark Lapier, owners of Big Shirl's Diner, were approved for dinner hours of 5 to 9 and added morning of 6 to 2 on Mondays.

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Carr Hardware Eyeing Scarafoni Ford Lot

Tammy Daniels

Carr Hardware is hoping to move into the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Carr Hardware is planning to relocate from its space on State Street to the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road and Roberts Drive.

Carr President Bart Raser said on Friday that a lease has not yet been settled with landlord Scarafoni & Associates but believed a deal was close. "We're feeling positive about the opportunity but it isn't done yet."

The company will appear before the Planning Board on Monday to apply for a change-of-use permit for the State Road property.

Carr Hardware has operated out of the former Tucker Toy building for 14 years, after purchasing the 192 State St. building from what was then International Outlets in 1997.

The car lot has had a couple different dealerships, the latest being Carbone Ford, which moved to a new building in Bennington, Vt., last fall to be near Carbone's other dealerships.

According to documents on file in the city's Community Development Office, Carr will have a full-service hardware, paint, lawn and garden and rental facility in the 10,000-square-foot building.

No significant changes to the color, existing footprint or parking are planned but the garage doors will be replaced on the former automotive service area.

Details of how the store would be laid out inside.

Raser said the offerings will be similar to the Pittsfield store; the company also has locations in Great Barrington and Watervliet, N.Y.

"This will be a real full-line operation," he said. "The Curran Highway store has been very limited to paint and rental."

Carr has also formed a relationship with Agway to sell its products in the new store. The last Agway in the area closed in Williamstown in 2009 after 45 years in business.

"It will be a green goods business, with flowers and plants and pets and birds supplies, which Agway is known for," said Raser.

The State Street location has had a significant drop in revenue since work began on the Hadley Overpass in 2009, to the point that it incurred the ire of the Planning Board when it was painted a bright yellow to garner attention. The Route 2 location will make the store easily accessible to customers from both Williamstown and North Adams.

"It's a great location and allows to do what we're very good at doing," said Raser. "We do a lot of commercial business that comes from our Pittsfield store. We know our North County customers will be happy with this.
 
"We've been trying to do this for a while. We have to move or close."

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Shane Gaudreau  
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 Gail Kolis Sellers  Yes
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 Richard J. Alcombright*  Yes
 Ronald A. Boucher  Yes
 Robert Martelle  Yes
 Preliminary election will eliminate one
 
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 Mary Lou Accetta* Yes
 Lawrence K. Taft* Yes
 Leonard Giroux Jr.  Yes
 Tara J. Jacobs  Yes
 David Lamarre Yes
   
McCann School Committee  
 George M. Canales Yes

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