Pittsfield Board Approves Expansion For Pediatric Development Center

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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The Zoning Board last week approved the expansion of the Pediatric Development Center despite neighbors' protests.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a structural expansion for the Pediatric Development Center, despite some concerns about increasing impact of commercial business on a once-residential west side street.
The center, located on Columbus Avenue Extension, plans to erect two additions: a one-story section on the side of the house and full two-story addition with an attic along the rear of the property.
While a preliminary site plan approval was granted by the Community Development Board earlier in July without objection, the proposal drew concerns from neighbors at last month's Zoning Board of Appeals.  
Chairman Albert Ingegni III said at last week's meeting that in the interim, the business had held a meeting with abutters and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol to address their concerns, primarily the impact of storm-water runoff, on-street parking, and complaints about existing night lighting at the business.
Robert Harrison of Harrison Design Associates said the PDC has addressed these concerns and is making efforts to accommodate residents as much as possible. In particular, Harrison said that some of the rear lighting that has drawn complaints was intended as a security measure, as the center's parking lot has had frequent issues with trespassing and "nefarious" nighttime activity.
"Now that we understand that the lighting is an issue for neighbors we're going to look at other options," Harrison told the board.
"Water run-off will not be affected by this current project," he added.
"I think the applicant has made an effort to accommodate neighbors as much as possible," said board member Thomas Goggens.
One neighboring family is not satisfied, however, imploring the ZBA not to grant the requested variances and special permit needed for the expansion.
"I'm still against it," said John Roccabruno, who described the Pediatric Development Center as "excellent neighbors" but opposed further expansion of commercial property in a location that has already largely shifted from residential to business over time.
"Sadly, that street has changed now, because we have no more residences on the street," Roccabruno told the board.  "I don't mind them being there at the size they are, but I think if you add the addition you change the property."
Roccabruno said he also believes the center's current parking lot will not be large enough to accommodate a business growing in employees, though it meets the zoning requirements for the workforce shift size the center listed in its application.
A majority of board members voiced reluctant endorsement of the change, expressing sympathies to neighbor concerns but ultimately deciding the impact of the change to this structure was not sufficient to deny permission.
"I do understand that it's continuing to change the neighborhood," said board member Esther Bolen.
"If you're going to expand the site, and you're getting bigger than what the site can handle, it's maybe time to look for another site,"  said John Fitzgerald.  "I think the issues that were raised were real, and need to be addressed."
"Albeit small, continued expansion is changing the character of this neighborhood," contended Mary Maduro, who cast the sole vote in opposition to the key variance allowing the project.
Roccabruno asked the board if he could appeal its decision, and was told he may file an appeal with the Berkshire Superior Court within 21 days of the ZBA's decision.

Tags: expansion,   pediatrics,   ZBA,   

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