The Planning Board approved a number of applications on Monday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two of the city's development panels on Monday cleared the way for First Congregational Church to separate from one of its parcels.
The Redevelopment Authority approved the creation of a new lot within the Urban Renewal District that comprises the church's Christian education building on Ashland Street. The Planning Board at its meeting immediately following approved the Form A application that divided the property.
Attorney F. Sydney Smithers of Cain Hibbard & Myers PC, representing First Congregational, said the congregation was in "financial exigencies" that requires it to sell the building.
"We need your approval to create a zero lot line building at that location," he explained to the board. "Just the footprint of the building."
Since the property is within the Urban Renewal District, it does not have to follow the zoning ordinances related to setbacks. The new lot would include just the building and not the entire parcel it sits on.
The structure was designed to provide needed space for the church's growing Sunday school and continue to bring in rental revenue 60 years ago. But First Congregational, like so many churches in the area, has seen dwindling numbers of parishioners — especially younger ones.
The building is valued at $274,000 for tax purposes.
The congregation is also asking for the return of one of two parcels deeded to the Redevelopment Authority in 1972. One was conveyed to the church in 1975 but not the other. Smithers thought it likely to have been an oversight.
The Redevelopment Authority was amenable to the first request but not the second on conveyance, preferring to get the city solicitor's opinion before proceeding. Smithers said he had forwarded the same letter to the city solicitor and had presumed the board would want to confer with him before moving forward.
The authority, comprised of Chairman Paul Hopkins, David Bond, Kyle Hanlon and Michael Leary, also approved the establishment of a tattoo and piercing business at 14 Ashland St. by Marcos Davila-Rodriguez and Kaileigh Lewis.
Davila-Rodriguez said he has been working the tattoo business for about 10 years. Lewis has roots in the community and said the couple saw North Adams as a growing area for the arts and place for opportunities in that field.
Following the Redevelopment Authority, the Planning Board approved several new businesses:
• David Atwell was approved to operate a package store at the former Lopardo's Package Store at the corner of River and Eagle streets. The business at 8 River had been closed for some time before being purchased and briefly operated by River Street Package Store Inc. The permitting has been held up by tax issues that have since been resolved. The approval was conditioned on Atwell working with the building inspector on signage.
• Jonathan Spinney was approved for operating a brewery and entertainment venue at 515 Curran Highway. He confirmed that he was purchasing the property and said it was in need of repairs and renovations. His anticipated hours will be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Sunday.
• Colleen Taylor, as GR Hospitality Holdings Inc., was approved for the Trail House Kitchen & Bar at 896 State Road, in the former La Veranda. Taylor had already gone before the License Board. The only concerns were raised by Peter Richard of 14 Lois St., a neighbor of hte restaurant, who worried about music or speakers when the patio was being used.
Taylor said she was cognizant of the neighbors and was not applying for an entertainment license and did not intend to have music outside.
• Centerville Sticks LLC was approved to continue renovations on what had been three-family building that was now two. The structure at 3-7 Edgewood Ave. was made up of an original 1860s home that had been added onto. No. 5 Edgewood, however, had become so dilapidated it had to be torn down, leaving two separate buildings in close proximity and no longer in compliance with zoning setbacks.
The board approved it as non-conforming. Mark Boyce of Leonard Street questioned the possible impact of parking on the narrow, steep street. "People parking on the top by Leonard Street is causing problems," he said.
Brian Miksic, who stepped away from the Planning Board to present the proposal as a principal of developer Very Good Property Development LLC, said the reduction from three units to two shouldn't cause more problems and that there shouldn't be any parking on the street during the winter. Boyce said he was applying to the Traffic Commission to have a no-parking sign installed; Miksic said it was a good idea.
• Ellen Janis was approved to operate a professional office at 60 Roberts Drive, the Norad Mill. She said she is a registered financial adviser and would be meeting clients, working on a computer and maintaining files in a second-floor office.
• BOON Properties, owner of the closed gas station at Canal and River streets, again asked for a postponement with the understanding it will go beyond 90 days from application.
The board voted to retain Michael Leary as chairman and voted Miksic as vice chairman; Kyle Hanlon was elected to continue as representative on the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. Lisa Blackmer was welcomed as a new member. Planner Lynnette Bond was absent.
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