Conservation Commissioner James Fassell, right, objected to several elements of the school's stormwater management plan.
ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School's proposed expansion cleared one hurdle at the Conservation Commission last week and will go before the Planning Board.
The 10,000 square-foot two-story addition on the building's north side and renovation of another 5,000 square feet will allow for a separate gym and a cafeteria, and offer more classroom and theater space.
The Conservation Commission on Thursday gave the nod to the addition and landscaping, required because of the building's proximity to the Hoosic River.
Julie Sniezek of Guntlow & Associates explained a plan that added a narrow greenspace between the paved parking and the flood control chute; a 2,200-square-foot rain garden; a reduction of 12 parking spots, and reconfigured entrance and exit.
Sniezek said the grading would be designed to sheet water toward the street on one side and toward the rain garden on the other. Rooftop water would be diverted to an existing pipe.
The commission had few problems with the plan, with the exception of member James Fassell, who objected to what he said was a lack of green space.
"I think it's a waste of time and I don't think it's going to last," he said of the rain garden. "It's like spitting in the wind."
Fassell said he was against a "philosophical approach to mitigation," and thought the stormwater management should be more robust and development further away from the river.
Chairman Jason Krzanowski, however, said the water was almost more controllable with the replacement of paving for roofing. The water garden also replaces what is currently pavement, he noted.
"They need to do something to improve existing conditions, and this does something for that," he said. "I would suggest it's sufficient."
Commission member Thomas Robinson said the strictures were different at this site than, for example, on Lime Street.
"You're along the flood control, you're on a developed piece of property, you're adding to the current development," he said. "There's nothing I can say against the project. ... Our hands are tied."
Fassell also objected to the two-story addition, saying it would ruin the foliage view from the Town Common, and the amount of traffic. He asked the school's director Julie Bowen why BArT hadn't looked at the vacant middle school.
The other commissioners objected that those issues were beyond their purview and best discussed at the proper boards.
Fassell said he would raise the issues with the Planning Board.
The commission approved the plan 4-1, with Fassell voting nay, with several conditions related to the planting and maintenance of the rain garden.
The commission also signed off on the completion of the dredging of Tophet Brook and its entrance into the Hoosic River. The project was to start in 2011 but Tropical Storm Irene delayed it until January 2013.
Nearly 10,000 cubic yards were removed from the area and new cribbing installed.
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