Local organizations have great long-term plans for the future of Berkshire County. But, state Sen. Adam Hinds said the state needs to get the "fundamentals right" before that can take hold.
Hinds spoke with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on Thursday and reviewed the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. He said 1Berkshire also has a similar blueprint with how to revitalize the Berkshire economy. But, both plans are still two or more years away, he said.
Two years ago, BRPC undertook a survey of the available properties that are zoned for industrial usage, near main roads, and in proximity (not necessarily served by) to utilities. Only 41 of those properties have more than three acres of undeveloped, buildable land.
In a small town like New Marlborough it can be financially difficult to bring in specialized expertise and attorneys for land use questions.
Now the Planning Board there is hoping to craft a right to farm bylaw to protect its farmers. Through state funding, the town can now lean on the expertise of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. New Marlborough is one of 25 towns in the Berkshires to receive help with planning issues through the District Local Technical Assistance program.
BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns knows a thing or two about planning.
He's been in the business for 40 years with most recently a 23-year stint as the executive director of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
The project to re-do the intersections around Berkshire Medical Center has been pushed back yet again, as the design has not progressed enough.
The $7.1 million project for the Berkshire Medical Center area has been ranked as a top priority by Berkshire Regional Planning Commission but the design is too far behind to go to bid in 2018. The project has been 11 years in the making, after a 2006 circulation study identified it as a focus for improving traffic in downtown Pittsfield.
The Selectmen have seen a draft of a Community Development Strategy Plan that is needed for the town to participate in the state's Housing Rehab Program.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission representative Patricia Mullins asked the board on Tuesday to review a draft copy of the plan that was created by a committee of residents. The plan outlines community goals and strategies.
BRPC finally got its local assistance funding and more than 25 towns have requested help.
The funding for District Local Technical Local Assistance program was questionable over the last few months as the state pondered budget cuts to address shortages of revenue. The state provides $2.8 million to regional planning committees to help towns with an array of planning projects.
BRPC is looking to "rapidly expand" a shared economic planner job.
Four towns, Hinsdale, Great Barrington, Clarksburg, and Lanesborough, had signed onto a project to bring on a full-time economic development specialist. William Compton was hired for the position and now splits his time working with the various communities.
The Selectmen have agreed to apply for a District Local Technical Assistance through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to identify processes and possible funding to remove dilapidated homes.
Town Administrator Mark Webber recommended to the board last week that they team up with Hinsdale and through BRPC apply for a grant that will provide guidance to remove blight in the community.
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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.