LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen approved Monday becoming the latest municipality to join the Berkshire Health Group.
The town was accepted to join the many others in the county using BHG for the joint purchase of employee health plans. According to interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg, the group offers a very similar plan for about the same price as the current one but with the possibility of saving significant money in the future.
The agreement is for a minimum of two years, but Lanesborough's rates would be higher than towns already enrolled because group members stash money into a trust fund for premiums. The town has not contributed to the fund and therefore does not reap the benefits yet.
"The rates we get for the first two years will not be as good as the other members," Kellogg said. "Right now, you aren't making any decisions about plans."
The town would also receive a seat on the group's board of trustees. Selectman Robert Barton added that the town can opt out of the group in two years.
Kellogg said that since the group's board of trustees consists of town officials, "if there is something that is going to be better for Lanesborough, it will probably be good for them, too."
Mount Greylock Regional High School officials criticized the town last year for not joining a joint purchasing group.
In other business, the board agreed to sponsor a proposed zoning bylaw that would allow aerial adventure parks. The proposal came as a citizens petition from attorney Jonathan Sabin, representing Feronia Holdings LLC, which is hoping to build a park on Brodie Mountain Road.
Since the zoning bylaws do not specially mention adventure parks, the group needs town meeting approval to change the zoning. The Planning Board had just recently finished a multi-year effort to revamp the zoning laws and did not want to propose yet another change so the company decided to do it by citizen's petition.
Board members encouraged Sabin to add the article to the warrant for a special town meeting instead of the annual one because of an already full agenda and a larger crowd that could make it difficult to pass. However, a citizen's petition for a special town meeting requires 100 signatures compared to the annual, which needs only 10.
Sabin said his clients were willing to put the bylaw before a special town meeting. The board voted to support the article, thus avoiding the 100-signature requirement.
"I am committing to sponsoring this proposal for the fall," Chairman William Prendergast said.
In a similar situation, Zoning Board of Appeals member Ronald Tinkham said a company proposing a gravel bed on Swamp Road will also need a bylaw change. Gravel beds are also not mentioned in the bylaws.
"I've had to basically reject an application," Tinkham said. "The gentleman spent a considerable amount of money. ... He will most likely be back at the town saying 'you fouled me.'"
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