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Regional Planners Still Waiting On DLTA Funds To Be Released

BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns wants to help move the Eagle Mill redevelopment along. But, he isn't sure if he'll have the funds to do it. Last year, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission began the process of crafting a 40R zoning overlay district. It is a series of regulations aimed to encourage dense residential and mixed-use zoning districts.

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BRPC Urges Single Environmental Report to Move Scenic Rail Project Along

Because of all of the work done already to bring the Berkshire Scenic Railway to Hoosac Street in Adams, BRPC says only one environmental review is needed. The Berkshire Scenic Railway is already operating on tracks between Renfrew Street and North Adams and the plans have been to continue that all the way to Hoosac Street, less than a mile away. But, the initial round of funding didn't support building out the new tracks to get there.

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BRPC Advocates for Investment in High-Speed Broadband

"As a region that has struggled economically for forty-five years, and is increasingly reliant on entrepreneurs and sole-proprietors, who are often home-based and can be located anywhere, having full, future proof broadband available across the region is critical to our economic rebuilding and sustainability," the letter states.

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Berkshire Planners Remain Concerned About DLTA Program

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission remains concerned about the funding for its District Local Technical Assistance program. The organization lobbied for the state fund the program at $3.4 million during the budget season but ultimately the state Legislature funded it at $2.8 million - level with previous years. But, the administration hasn't released those funds and state revenues have been coming in lower than hoped. Now, many are expecting mid-year cuts from Gov. Charlie Baker and BRPC

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BRPC Worried About Funding For Local Technical Assistance Program

BRPC is starting to worry about the fate of a $2.8 million state budget line used to help cities and towns with various projects. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is supposed to be in line to receive some $200,000 or the equivalent of nearly two full time staff members from the state to run the District Local Technical Assistance Program.

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BRPC To Towns: Consider Long-term Sustainability of Broadband Choices

PITTSFIELD, Mass. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is warning towns not to settle for internet which may not be fast enough in a few years. The relaunching of the Massachusetts Broadband Initiative comes with changes to the program which allows towns to craft individual plans for expanding broadband into unserved areas. That includes grants for cable companies to expand - such as Lanesborough, West Stockbridge, and Hinsdale - opted to do or expansion of a wireless system - like Middle

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BRPC Hears Update To 'Last Mile' Broadband Plan

Finishing out the so-called "last mile" of broadband connectivity will take a flexible approach, giving towns an array of options to connect, according to Massachusetts Technology Collaborative implementation liaison Bill Ennen. Ennen was appointed to the role which serves as an middle man between the state's Massachusetts Broadband Initiative and individual towns in June at the same time former Pittsfield state Rep. Peter Larkin was appointed to chair the MBI board. The two are now heading t

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BRPC: Airfield Ruling Has Deep Implications to Zoning Laws

A recent appeals court ruling against the town of Sheffield may have impacts on zoning throughout the state. In May a Massachusetts Appeals Court decision sided with Sheffield Resident John Hanlon in a battle over a private landing strip Hanlon built and registered. The strip was just some 1,250-feet long in a field among some 38-acres of land he owns. The landing strip was registered with the state and sat in a mowed hayfield.

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Berkshire Planners Lobbying State For DLTA Program Funding

BRPC is ramping up its advocacy for the district local technical assistance program. The DLTA program is state funded and provides money for towns to contract with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for assistance in a number of planning areas including zoning, permitting, land use, water resources, transportation, information technology and others.

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Cheshire Finds New Use For Pipeline Funds

The recent suspension of Kinder Morgan's Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project is freeing up funds for the town's master plan. The Selectmen received a letter from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission thanking them for being part of the working group the commission hosted that provided towns affected by the pipeline with counsel and legal representation.

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BRPC Director Reflects on Origins During 50th Year

This is the 50th year Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has been in existence. On Thursday, Executive Director Nathaniel Karns honored the anniversary by providing highlights from the first 25 years, showing where the commission had been on the frontline with major issues. The commission formed in 1966 and a year later Karl Hekler was hired as the first staff member as executive director, a position he'd keep for 25 years. The first issue facing the commission was plans for an interst

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Berkshire Planners Object to Transportation, Development Cuts

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is taking aim at Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed fiscal 2017 budget. The commission on Thursday approved sending a letter to state lawmakers outlining its opposition to cuts that will affect transportation and development issues in the region. Executive Director Nathaniel Karns took aim at four areas of the budget: public transportation, environmental protection, brownfields funding, and money for economic development organizations.

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BRPC Supports Efforts to Designate 'Bicycle Route 7' Through Berkshires

Long-distance cyclists may soon be directed to bike through the Berkshires. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials are developing a massive highway system designation throughout the country for long-distance bicyclists to map out routes. What is eyed as US Bicycle Route 7 is eyed to connect Connecticut with Vermont. It's connecting regions and states much like the highway system," said Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Emily Lindsey.

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Cheshire Interested In Community Compact And Forestry Program

The town will pursue the state Community Compact Program in hopes of receiving grant funding for its master plan. Thomas Matusko urged the Selectmen on Tuesday to sign the agreement developed by the Baker administration that allows municipalities to take advantage of state services and assistance to complete agreed-upon best practices.cs

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BRPC Trying To Get Ahead On OPEB Liabilities

BRPC is trying to get ahead on its "other postemployment benefits." In 2009, Massachusetts passed a law requiring government agencies to disclose the liability. OPEB consists mostly of health insurance for future retirees and the focus of most agencies is to start a trust fund, which will eventually be used to pay those benefits pulling that annual expense from the operating budget.

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State Pushing Complete Street Program; Eyes Changes to MPO System

"We see this program having a lot of benefit to smaller communities as well as the cities." — Clete Kus

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BRPC: $815 Million Invested In Berkshire County Since 2012

"I expect that to be underestimated because that is just the stuff we know." mdash; Brian Domina

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FERC Extends Pipeline Comment Period

"We will probably be submitting something pushing 100 pages." — Nathaniel Karns

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BRPC Seeking 'Economic Development District' Designation For County

"There are currently eight of these in Massachusetts." — Brian Domina

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BRPC Plans Workshop On Local Permits For Gas Pipeline Project

"What we do have and have strong credibility is in how to mitigate impacts in our communities if it comes to pass." — Nathaniel Karns

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Pittsfield Earmarks CDBG Funds For Projects In Low Income Areas

"We're really looking to bring economic opportunities to the city." — Doug Clark

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BRPC: County Short On Manufacturing Sites

"The lack of land in Berkshire County isn't an issue. The lack of infrastructure and the zoning is the issue." — Brian Domina

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Cheshire Looks To Join BRPC Pipeline Work Group

"Every place this pipeline goes there is a benefit to the host community and that is negotiable." — Mark Webber

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Cheshire Considers Joining BRPC Pipeline Group

"If it's $20,000 to $30,000 with all 12 towns in, we still don't have that." — Chairwoman Carol Francesconi

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BRPC: Inclusionary Zoning Helps Towns Increase Affordable Housing

"We're trying to figure out how to get more affordable housing into our communities." — Brian Domina

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