Attorney General May Reject Lanesborough's New Zoning

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — An error in posting a public hearing on zoning bylaw changes may force the town back to square one and open the door for a gravel bed to continue operating.

According to interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg, the town made an error in its legal posting for the October public hearing by not including the exact changes. The attorney general's office has now suspended town meeting's approval of the bylaws. The town is requesting a waiver.

"We published the notice and we've received two objections," Kellogg said on Tuesday.

One of those is from Joseph Sinopoli III, owner of a gravel pit off Swamp Road. According to documents obtained from the attorney general's office, Sinopoli's complaint claims that he was unaware that gravel pits would no longer be permitable and did not have a chance to object. The pit has operated under special permits for a number of years but Sinopoli said he learned it had been zoned out when he filed to renew his permit.

"Mr. Sinopoli has owned this gravel pit for a considerable period of time and has been issued permits from the town previously for it," reads the complaint filed by attorney Mitchell Boraski on Sinopoli's behalf. "If the bylaw were to be upheld, Mr. Sinopoli's historical use of the property would be extinguished. Without adequate notice ahead of time, Mr. Sinopoli was prevented from the opportunity of filing an application earlier."

A message for Sinopoli left on Thursday afternoon seeking comment was not immediately returned.

If the complaint is sufficient to warrant a rejection of the bylaws, the town will be forced to go through the public hearing and approval process again.

According to Emalie Gainey, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, the office is currently reviewing the claims and has yet to render a decision. The office has 90 days from June 18 to render a decision.

If the complaint is upheld, another public hearing will need to be held with at least two weeks of public notices. During that period, the old zoning bylaws are in effect. A special town meeting would be held in the fall to re-vote the zoning changes.

Also filing a complaint was Thomas Mierzejewski, who objected to new zoning allowing business occupations to be operated out of residences, saying the bylaw does not take into account the number of employees or type of trade.

A special town meeting would also decide another proposed bylaw change to allow adventure parks. Feronia Holdings LLC is looking to build an aerial adventure park on Brodie Mountain Road. The new bylaws exclude the park and Feronia officials are looking to pass a warrant article that will include them. That has already received support from the Board of Selectmen.

The town is now expected to hold two special town meetings in the coming months. The first is scheduled for July 31, when voters will be asked to allocate additional funds for the town administrator position and decide a dock bylaw.

The dock bylaw was a hot topic at a previous town meeting and officials are hoping that additional work on the language will make it passable.

The additional funds will be about $19,000 to pay for a full-time administrator. The post has been considered part time, at 70 percent. The town is advertising the position and forming a search committee. The goal is to have a new administrator by September.

Tags: attorney general,   bylaws,   gravel bed,   special permit,   zoning,   

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