Housing on upper floors of downtown buildings was forbidden for years.
Even if a developer wanted to build apartments or condominiums it couldn't. But a handful of years ago, the city changed that. It created a zoning overlay district to broaden the scope of what could be developed.
In the spring, faced with intense opposition from a vocal group of residents, the board abandoned a proposal to implement changes that would have eased zoning restrictions and created more flexibility in residential zones.
The Planning Board on Tuesday held its second meeting since May's town election and the town meeting at which the prior board had hoped to bring an ambitious proposal to revamp the town's zoning bylaws before voters.
Gov. Charlie Baker is looking to curb a housing crisis in the Boston metro area through his Housing Choice Initiative.
But the program will be used little, if at all, in the Berkshires where the issue isn't so much the need for new housing but for rehabilitation of housing. But, this area does rely heavily on such programs as MassWorks, PARC, and MassDOT's capital and complete streets and language in the Housing Choice Initiative puts the Berkshires at a disadvantage for those.
Among other things, the bylaw drafted by the Planning Board would divide a large chunk of the town's General Residence district into four newly created zones. Those zones would allow varying degrees of density — the number of housing units allowed on a property.
The bylaw is the outcome of a year-long Planning Board study undertaken with a grant from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership that included community outreach sessions and sought to find ways to address the "missing middle" of housing options between detached single-family homes and large apartment complexes.
The Selectmen and some members of the Planning Board met with Thomas Matuszko of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission last Tuesday to settle a misunderstanding about a state housing grant BRPC was administering on behalf of the town that town leaders did not agree with.
The Board of Health wants landlords to make their properties smoke free.
The Health Department doesn't have authority to demand landlords adopt smoke-free policies but are rolling out resources to guide landlords on how to do so. The board feels that second-hand smoke is a health concern and in homes is where most second-hand smoke occurs.
According to slides presented that were based on data from Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, for example, 33 percent of people in Berkshire County are renters; that number jumps to 48 percent in North Adams and 41 percent in Adams, while Williamstown numbers match the county average.
Town Administrator Mark Webber told the board Tuesday that BRPC recently reached out to him to see if the town was interested in utilizing a state Department of Housing and Community Development program that allows residents to apply for grants that permit them to make improvements to their homes.
The City Council approved a tax agreement to help the redevelopment of the former Holy Family Church on Seymour Street.
The project proposed by Developer David Carver, owner of Scarafoni Properties and doing this project under WDM Properties, is looking to turn the former church into 10 market-rate housing units.
Allegrone Construction has completed a $9 million renovation of the historic Onota Building on North Street.
The company held an open house on Wednesday to show off the 25 rental units, rooftop deck, and six retail spaces. Already more than half of the housing units have been leased with move in day just a few weeks away on Nov. 15.
Thursday's meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals was a study in irony.
The board members rejected a request from a resident they clearly appeared to want to help and approved a special permit under a bylaw about which several members clearly have reservations.