Clarksburg Selectmen See Proposed Zoning Changes
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board has scheduled a public hearing for two zoning articles to be put on the annual town warrant.
Planning Board Chairman David Sherman said his board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, with the help of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, has revamped some of the zoning bylaws.
"BRPC were impressed with the bylaws we had from 1993, but obviously technology has gone past that," Sherman said. "Everything identified was something we needed to amend to catch up with the times."
The first warrant article will address wireless telecommunication facilities. An installation at any location would require a special permit from the Planning Board.
The second article would prohibit any wind generation system that is more than 100 feet tall and that has a capacity over 10 kilowatts. Anything smaller than this can be installed with a special permit.
"If someone has a lot of land and they want to put a small windmill for their own energy consumption, we don't want to discourage that," Sherman said.
These zoning changes also would allow elderly housing in the industrial district but would prohibit nonprofit private clubs or lounges in certain areas, including the industrial district, but would allow them with a special permit in R-30, C-1, and AR districts.
The board voted to hold the public hearing Wednesday, May 4, at the Senior Center at 6:30 p.m. Residents can pick up a hard copy at Town Hall.
Sherman said the Planning Board will tackle the rest of the zoning bylaws in the summer. The ones selected for the upcoming town meeting were considered priorities.
The board also voted to establish a business registration and fee to comply with the Annual License Information Filing with the state Department of Revenue.
Town Administrator Carl McKinney said the state has mandated that all businesses in town fill out and return a form that will register them with the town and state.
He said the state is using communities as "conduits" to capture revenue from businesses and to make sure they are paying property taxes.
"They are going to check that data against their tax records and those that do not pay their taxes are going to get a call from the Department of Revenue," McKinney said.
He said the board has to adopt the policy because the town currently has no mechanism for businesses to register.
The board agreed to waive the $20 fee for all businesses that fill out the one-page form before July 1.
"We will be as kind and as cooperative as we can, and if there are any questions they can call, but we need to do this," McKinney said.
The state is also suggesting the town collect tax identification or Social Security numbers, too, but the town will not do this.
"Since it's not being mandated I would prefer not to," he said. "I just don't want to have more data out there for possible breach than what we have to."
The board also discussed adopting a local lodging tax that would allow the town to collect three-quarters of one percent of lodging revenue.
McKinney said five homes in Clarksburg utilize Airbnb, a website that allows homeowners to rent out rooms in their homes like a hotel.
That is taxable.
"They are basically competing with actual hotels and motels who are in the business of actually renting rooms," he said. "It would only be fair that they are also taxed at the same capacity."
McKinney said more importantly, he was worried about homes that are not connected to public water. He said the town should set up a process to inspect these wells as well as make sure the homes are safe and up to code.
"We don't want to have someone that rents a bedroom get ill because of well water that has not been tested that potentially has creepy crawlers in them or whatever," he said. "It's a public safety issue."
The board agreed to vote on the article once it is writing and after talking it over with the building inspector.
McKinney said long-awaited construction on Gates Avenue should begin in a month, however, he has been battling with National Grid.
The electrical utility has struggled to provide a response about a utility pole placed right on the construction site that must be moved.
"That is not going to work, and it is not acceptable," he said. "I went up there with a tape measure and I didn't even have to get out of my car. It is a foot away from where we are going to be digging."
He said after contacting state legislators, he was able to get a hold of National Grid.
"They better not screw this up because I will be really really mad," McKinney said. "This has been a four-year effort to get this culvert approved ... and it is on it's way."
The board heard from BRPC's Emily Lindsey about the state Department of Transportation's Complete Streets program that provides qualifying communities with funding to improve streets, sidewalks, and intersections to better transportation for all travel modes.
Board members agreed to adopt the policy and Lindsey said in order to move to the next level, they must make a "wish list" of road projects. Once this is done, they can receive up to $50,000 in technical assistance. If the list is eligible they can receive up to $400,000 for the actual project.
Projects could also be additions to infrastructure such as bike lanes or signage.
McKinney said he would like to focus on connectivity in town and build out from West Cross Road once it is redone because it is the "backbone" of the town and connects to other roads and facilities.
Tags: complete streets, road work, town meeting 2016, zoning,