Residents Lori-Anne Aubin, left, and Jean Marchio look over the plans for the Kingdom Hall.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Planning Board met Wednesday to determine a simple question: Should it allow a separate special permit for a well for the planned church at Cross and Middle roads.
The answer was no. The board unanimously voted that any approval for a drilling a well would have to be part of the special permit package required for the North Adams Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses to build a new hall. The permit is required because of floodplain issues.
"My opinion on that is they should file it with the special permit, I don't think we should be making decisions outside of the permit," said Chairman David Sherman. "I don't think we can answer that without a special permit."
The question had come from the congregation's engineer, John Dupras of Trinity Engineering, who had emailed Sherman about which board had the permitting authority and if it would approve the well, dependent on the conditions set by the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP would have oversight since the well would be a public water supply.
Sherman had tabled the question from last meeting until the full board could review it.
The meeting was brief, and so were the audience members who attended. Still, they expressed the same concerns as did the nearly two dozen who packed last month's informational meeting on the project.
Residents have been critical of the plan to build a 4,000 square-foot hall and accompanying parking lot on a field in the quiet rural neighborhood. Noise, traffic, water runoff and the despoiling of open space were all raised at that meeting.
On Wednesday, a handful people attended to stay abreast of the issue, several of whom said they had been unaware of last month's meeting.
Jean Marchio of Southernview Drive and several others expressed surprise that the proposal had already been approved for a sewer hookup and wondered how it would be billed. "Homes have been turned down," she said.
Some residences had been denied sewer hookups in the past because of flow problems in the system that have since been corrected.
The congregation's request to hook into the sewer was approved by the Selectmen in June and the North Adams City Council in July. It was before the third and final approving board, the Hoosac Water Quality District, last week but postponed because a formal written request had not been received, according to the city's representative Timothy Lescarbeau.
The matter had not been discussed but it was probable that the district would charge the hall at a higher commercial rate.
In response to questions, Sherman said the congregation had not applied for a special permit yet. Should it do so, the board would have 65 days to schedule a public hearing; the hearing notice would be published 14 days prior.
Audience members urged the board to advertise the hearing as much as possible. Lori-Anne Aubin, who lives near the site, suggested using the town's Facebook page. Sherman said he might look into using the town garage's billboard.
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