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The Zoning Board of Appeals voted to continue the public hearing until the next meeting.

Cumberland Farms Hearing Continued

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals voted to continue Cumberland Farms’ public hearing to the next meeting. 
 
"We have received correspondence from Cumberland Farms from their attorney asking that we continue the public hearing scheduled tonight," Chairman Peter West said Tuesday. "They have asked to be continued."
 
Cumberland Farms wants to demolish Al’s Service Center on 95 Commercial St. as well as two other properties, all owned by Carol Ostrowski, and build a gas station just south of its older location that will be closed.
 
Last month Cumberland Farms representatives met with the Zoning Board of Appeals to go over the plans and get feedback from the board, as well as residents, in regard to the overall scope of the project and the three variances they are seeking.
 
Chief among the board’s concerns were traffic increases (especially on the narrow Prospect Street), tractor-trailer maneuverability, and a 24-hour operation in a residential district.
 
Residents echoed many of these concerns and said the proposed gas station would lower property values and were worried about garbage, crime, and excess noise. 
 
Some simply did not want the gas station in their neighborhoods while others thought the use was flat out illegal according to the town’s zoning bylaws.
 
At the end of the nearly two-hour meeting last month the Cumberland Farms representatives said they would be willing to come back to a future meeting with possible changes reflective of the feedback they received.
 
However, the business is now slated to be discussed on August 14 at 6 p.m. – the board’s next scheduled meeting.
 
With virtually no business on the board’s agenda Tuesday night, the meeting moved rather quickly, and the board only took time and answer some procedural questions from abutter Dave Roberts.
 
Roberts pointed to the much smaller crowd gathered at the meeting and asked how long Cumberland Farms can continue the hearings.
 
"I noticed what’s happened," he said. "We have half the amount of people at this meeting that were at the last meeting."
 
West said there is a timeline the board must follow that was initiated the moment the application was submitted by Cumberland Farms. He said although they are still within the timeline it is the board’s discretion if they want to continue to grant continuation requests.
 
"The board could look at that and say enough is enough, but it is the board’s decision," he said. 
 
West added that it is up to the applicant to prove their case and if the board feels as though they need more information or a site visit they can continue the hearing.
 
"The burden of proof is on the applicant and their representative and if we feel as though we have enough evidence we can go forward and make a decision," he said. "We can also say we want to continue or have another site visit."
 
This is the second continuance Cumberland Farms has asked for.
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