The plan would be to demolish the former KFC, turning that space into a parking lot, and renovate the Tailored Events building.
"The front of this building will face west, face the parking area so it will have a different orientation to the property," Engineer James Scalise of SK Design told the Community Development Board on Tuesday night.
Scalise talked the board through the design including lighting, landscaping, parking, and traffic. The Community Development Board's in the process to review the site plan of the proposed facility as well as review a floodplain permit needed. The ultimate say over the plan will happen Wednesday night before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Community Development Board had only a few issues with the proposed site design but that wasn't the problem two years ago. The ZBA denied the permit at that time after determining that such a development was detrimental to the character of the neighborhood. In 2016, George Haddad, president of the Haddad Dealerships on the other side of the street, neighbor Michael O'Keefe, and resident Jessie Griffin were among those voicing opposition to that particular site.
The group cited Chin Bo Kok Marital Arts Academy for children, Kids Zone Day Care Center, parks and doctors offices and even the proximity to Pittsfield High School to demonstrate the neighborhood's character. However, each one of those falls outside of the 200-foot buffer zone required by local permitting for a marijuana facility and the area is zoned for commercial use.
O'Keefe opposed the 2016 plan and will oppose the 2018 plan as well.
"We went through this application process a few years ago and it was rejected because of the proximity of the school, gymfest, and all of these places geared toward kids," O'Keefe said, adding that children and teens are walking the area going to Belanger Park or elsewhere often.
O'Keefe added that there is a significant traffic issue on East Street right now and adding such a use to the area will only make it worse and more unsafe. He added that the city has seen high demand for recreational marijuana and "we have enough of them already."
Scalise said the nearest children's area is 570 feet away and PHS is much further. He added that the area is zoned commercial use and that the residential properties there are non-conforming and only there because they pre-existed zoning. Scalise disputes the parking issue saying the dispensary will produce significantly less traffic.
"The previous use of fast food generates about 300 vehicle trips in the peak hour, we are three times less than that," Scalise said, though O'Keefe will contest that particular KFC was not generating that much traffic.
The plans for Heka call for new landscaping and screening. There will be a total of eight lights on the parking lot for security. Scalise said the banks by Silver Lake will have invasive species removed — however, the consent decree with General Electric limits what work can be done as far as excavation because of costs to the developer. Scalise said this redevelopment will be an improvement to what is there now.
In what limited capacity the Community Development Board has on these particular permits, it is recommending that the ZBA demand that some 20 feet of proposed parking from the plan is turned into green space. The change would eliminate four of the proposed 47 parking spaces, but the board felt it provided needed to push for parking closer to the rear of the property and increase plantings in the front.
"I respect where the applicant is coming but it seems like a significant amount of parking of that facility," board member Gary Levante said.
Scalise complied with eliminating some of the spaces but asked, and received, an OK to return to the city in the future should the parking demand call for more.
For Heka, the location is at least its second potential one. Heka Health has been seeking a location in the city since 2015 when it first proposed a medical marijuana facility.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Pittsfield 14s Rally Past N.H. Champs at Babe Ruth Regional Tourney
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Will Kinne scored on a two-out error in the bottom of the sixth to break a 6-6 tie and send the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-Stars on to a 7-6 win over Nashua, N.H., on Saturday at the New England Regional Championships.
The winning rally started when Jake Hall drew a leadoff walk. He was eventually erased trying to score from third on a ground ball, but Kinne already had reached on the second Nashua error of the inning.
Kinne went to third on Nick Guachione's two-out single and scored when Collin Merwin reached on an error.
Tyler Gaudette retired the side in the order in the top of the seventh to earn the win after going to the hill in the sixth in relief of Merwin.
When Patrick Kavey returned to his hometown he had trouble finding work.
"I started applying to professional jobs. I had an interesting time finding either a job that would compensate me based on what you would see for an area of this size in the region or just finding specific jobs in general,"... click for more
Wetland issues have derailed planned improvements to Pontsoosuc Lake Park.
The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake received $15,000 from the Community Preservation Act with the intent to restore the beach on the Hancock Road side. The city's Parks, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim... click for more
When two men came whipping into the city with police on their tail in March, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police officers hanging out the window shooting their guns off trying to blow out the tires. That only happens in movies.
In fact, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police on the suspect's... click for more
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
click for more