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Engineer Brent White and Executive Director Carolyn Valli presented the plans to the Community Development Board on Tuesday.

Central Berkshire Habitat Condo Project Receives Permits

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity's Gordon Deming project is a go. 
The non-profit received the local permits needed on Tuesday for the six-unit, three-building condominium project. The project has been in the works for a decade since Berkshire Gas first donated the property on Deming Street and Executive Director Carolyn Valli believes it will be out to bid in March. 
The $1.1 million project was anticipated to break ground this fall and had been heralded by city and state officials when Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito awarded a $425,000 grant toward it last November but lining up permitting has proven to be a challenge.
Particularly because the property is in the floodplain, Habitat had to purchase land on West Housatonic Street that currently has somewhat of a concrete parking lot and turn that back into wetlands in order to comply with the Conservation Commission's request. That hadn't been done by last month and the Community Development Board wouldn't allow the project to move forward without the ConCom's approval.
Now all of that has been taken care of and the plans are set to move forward. 
The first step of the project is to use that $425,000 from the state to build the roadway and water infrastructure. The development needs a road with two egress points to comply with the Fire Department's standards and new water lines to service the development. Then the three buildings will be constructed. Valli said not all of the units have families yet identified to take over ownership.
Habitat is working with an attorney on the creation of a homeowner's association. That will build in fees for the property owners to pay for ongoing maintenance, such as landscaping and repairs to the access road.
The landscaping was a particular problem for the Community Development Board, which wanted to ensure that property beyond the individual units is well kept. Valli said Habitat currently has an agreement with a landscaping company for the property and likely that company will stay on even after the units are built.
The Community Development Board also had some questions about the gravel access road and engineer Brent White said some modifications were made to further prevent the road from washing out and it will be re-inspected on a quarterly basis to start.
In other business, the board gave its OK for Herbal Pathways to open a recreational marijuana facility at 1315 East St.
The board previously voiced concern about the number of businesses operating at the property. Currently, it is shared by a landscaping company, a dog grooming company, and there are rental storage units on site. The addition of another business raised concerns about zoning regulations and traffic.
"The dog grooming business and the structure will be removed. That addressed the zoning matter," White said.
If approved by the state, the store would be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and on Sundays from noon until 6. There are no significant changes to the appearance of the building.

Tags: community development,   habitat for humanity,   

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Environment Secretary Visits Pittsfield

Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, visits the site of culvert project in Pittsfield being funded through the state's climate readiness program.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides was in Pittsfield on Friday to review a state-funded culvert site and meet with local officials to discuss the state's climate readiness program. 
She joined Mayor Linda Tyer at the Churchill Street culvert, a site which recently received grant funding through the state's Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The city was awarded an $814,524 state grant in June for the Churchill Brook and West Street Culvert Replacement Project.
Through the MVP program, which begun in 2017, municipalities identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. The initiative which initially started as a $500,000 capital grant program has now increased to $12 million. Pittsfield is among the 71 percent of communities across the commonwealth now enrolled in the MVP program.
"The governor and the lieutenant governor have made resilient infrastructure a priority all across the state and I think it's really important to know that we have a really vested interest in Western Massachusetts communities as well as all across the state, not forgetting the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley," said Theoharides in a statement. "Our MVP program is really focused on these types of partnership investments and looking to design infrastructure for the challenges we're seeing today and moving forward as climate change increases."
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