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Chris Gingras represents the neighbors at Monday's meeting.

Pittsfield Board Looking Into Possible Proprietor's Lodge Parking Violations

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board is telling city staff not to sign off on anything regarding the Proprietor's Lodge expansion as it looks into allegations that the company is not complying with its parking plan.
The board  has received two complaints about the restaurant and event venue at the former Itam Lodge alleging that the company is not following the parking plan the board approved.
Now, the board is asking the building commissioner and the Licensing Board not to approve anything further, which means the additional space the company is building cannot be used until the matter is solved.
"I think initially our advice is to instruct staff to not sign off on any additional building permits or any inspections," said City Planner CJ Hoss.
The lodge was given a special permit to add a deck, ceremony room and a breakout space to the building. The company said it was not asking to increase its capacity but rather was providing more space for patrons to use.
However, that permit came with a condition that the establishment follow a plan to shuttle guests to alleviate parking and traffic issues. The venue is holding more events and operating later into the evening than the Itam had and neighbors in the tightly congested neighborhood have ferociously opposed the liquor and entertainment licenses and the expansion.
Proprietor's presented a plan to have patrons park on property that owner Eric Taylor purchased in Lanesborough and shuttle them to the lodge. However, that parking lot is not completed and the company has filed for a permit with Lanesborough's Conservation Commission.
The parking plan also called for six spaces to be designated for carpool only, for a designated space for taxis, and that a parking attendant would be on hand to control traffic.
Residents say the company has not followed through and provided the Community Development Board with photos detailing violations. They say cars continue to line the side streets, congesting traffic and causing safety hazards. The neighbors also provided photos of the lodge using a shuttle bus to have eventgoers picked up at the city-owned parking lot on Pontoosuc Lake without city approval and not from the Lanesborough property.
The meeting room on Monday was filled with neighbors but the board restricted comments to just one person. Christopher Gingras represented the neighborhood saying they have concerns with the congestion in the side streets, noise, and too many people at the location at once. Gingras said the company's operations are causing safety issues and is detrimental to the character of the neighborhood.
He called on the board to take several steps: take time to review the complaints and evidence presented, to conduct a site visit and traffic study that includes traffic counts, and to stop any further development.
The board agreed to most of those on Monday with the exception of a traffic study.
"It is our intent to investigate this further, to give the Proprietor's Lodge management an opportunity to respond to this," said Chairwoman Sheila Irvin.
Licensing Board member Richard Stockwell attended the Community Development Board meeting to relay that the Licensing is aware of the issue and to say the board has not yet rendered a decision on the entertainment license nor the expanded space for the alcohol license. He said the board can't act on those until the building inspectors sign off.
"The board is well aware of what you are asking and we are taking it very seriously," he said, but he couldn't promise whether or not a vote will pass.
Even if it does come to a vote, Stockwell said the company would have the ability to appeal to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission in Boston. Stockwell said the city allows for other similar licenses so there is a chance that the city would lose on appeal.
The Community Development Board is asking the building commissioner not to sign off on any inspections for the time being. The board is also planning a site visit. 
Proprietor's Lodge will be given an opportunity to answer to the allegations at the board's next meeting in June.

Tags: community development,   event venue,   parking,   traffic,   

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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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