Walmart Expected to Submit Plans for New Store
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expected to file building permits as soon as this week to construct a 160,000 square foot Super Walmart on Curran Highway.
"Because we are getting so close to final design on the Walmart project we're going to be submitting applications for building permits shortly," attorney Jay Sabin, representing developer Ceruzzi Properties, told the Planning Board on Monday night.
Planners review changes requested for the Walmart project on Curran Highway in North Adams.
The announcement came during the board's approval of a boundary change to slice three acres off the 26-acre Walmart parcel and an alteration at the exit from the jughandle to the accessway to the parking lot.
Jon Brodeur, of engineering firm Doucet & Associates, confirmed the plans could be filed by the end of this week and said construction will take about a year once shovels are in the ground.
The board was thrilled to hear the project was moving forward but was concerned that moving the boundary line — eliminating land investigated by the state Department of Environmental Protection — would leave the tainted property as is.
"It's very important for us to know that by doing this that someone is ...," started Planner Donald Keagan, who had his sentence finished by Vice Chairman Paul Hopkins, "is not getting out of having to clean it."
Sabin said it would fall to Ceruzzi to remediate the problem and that plans have been made in cooperation with DEP.
"Walmart is very, very cautious when it comes to their acquisitions and the way that they look at this, very appropriately look at this, is that ... Walmart would rather see my client deal with that than deal with it themselves," he said. "Especially since it's a property they don't need."
Large concrete rubble was dumped on the 3-acre site without informing the DEP, which allows concrete fill crushed to no larger than 6 inches with approval. Sabin said other expected environmental cleanup will also take place on the property.
Walmart is expected to purchase the larger the parcel.
The board continued the public hearing of Snoford LLC to operate a package store until October because of concerns over the lack of site plans, parking and the owner's frequent violations of conditions and property tax issues. Charles "Rusty" Ransford and Thomas Snow are seeking to open the store at 76 Union St. building owned by Ransford under the name of the former Pops Package Store that was torn down some years ago.
The owners had received licensing to operate a package store after being denied an all-alcholic license last year. The hearing had also been delayed several times until back taxes owed on the property were paid.
The hearing, however, brought up more issues including the condition of the building and the amount of parking and possible requirement to pave the lot behind the building. The discussion revealed that a business the board was unaware of was using the building and that a condition on the Crystal Hard Hat that included leasing parking from Ransford was in dispute.
Planners considered whether to reject the application outright because of Ransford's past history. "I don't have any confidence no matter what we do that he will be in compliance," said Keagan.
However, the board voted to continue the hearing, giving Ransford a list of information it required and setting a site visit prior to the next meeting.
:: Approved the application for a change of use permit for Security Supply Corp. to operate a wholesale plumbing and heating business at 50 Roberts Drive. The company expects to close on the property this week.
:: Approved a special permit to change and upgrade signage for NBT Bank N.A., which is moving in the former Legacy Banks building on State Road, on condition the signs not be internally lit.
:: Approved an application of MCLA for properties located on Blackinton, Church and Porter streets. One lot will be gifted to the commonwealth of Massachusetts for the MCLA Science Center and lot two will remain with the MCLA Office of Admissions and Wellness Center.
:: Approved the extension of hours for Supreme Pizza until 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 1 a.m. from Thursday through Saturday.
:: Approved the installation of an exterior cooler on a concrete pad behind Desperados on Eagle Street. Owner David Atwell said the cooler will be framed and painted over to blend in.
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Planning Board to Look at Ordinance Change
Planners are concerned that once-commercial properties are now useless because of a two-year time limit.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board will work on a solution to a vexing issue that's left some properties in limbo around the city.
The board next month will begin discussions on changing an ordinance that limits buildings that were grandfathered under zoning to a vacancy of no more than two years before they revert to the current zoning, which is often residential.
"There are several properties in this city that have defaulted on that status and are nonconforming but no longer in continuous use. Therefore they are kind of in a state of limbo," said Chairman Michael Leary on Monday night. "I want to generate a discussion at the next meeting to see if there are options that we can recommend to the City Council to amend ordinances so we can get those properties out of limbo and help the owners of those properties."
The issues came up earlier this year when the board sought an opinion from the city solicitor as to the fate of the West End Market. The building had been under renovation but owner Barry Garton was running into a two-year deadline that would revert the commercial building to residential use. The solicitor found the renovation could be determined a "substantial" enough use to allow the board to extend his special permit.
Planning Board member Wayne Wilkinson said the most blatant example of the problem is the former NAPA auto parts store on State Road.
"Technically, the building is rendered useless," said Wilkinson. "The only use that's allowed there is residential; for someone to spend the amount of money to develop that proerpty for residential ... I don't even know if you could because of the size of the lot.
"Eventually, it will be taken by the city for back taxes and there will be nothing left at that time but to demolish it."
One option the board will look at is removing the section that refers to a nonconforming structure being "abandoned or discontinued."
The ordinance states: (Section 12, Part 2) Abandonment of a nonconforming use: A nonconforming use which has been abandoned or discontinued for a period of more than two (2) years or has been replaced by a conforming use shall lose the protection set forth above in Section 12.1. (Ord. of 8-14-1990, § 1)
Building Inspector William Meranti said an ordinance change could run into state law.
"We're an old city ... we have some of these properties that seem like they're in neighborhoods but they're commercial, storefront-type properties that have absolutely no use," said Building Inspector William Meranti, who added there is no process for reviving the nonconforming use.
Meranti said changes may run into the state's 40A zoning but "there could be avenues we can take."
The meeting was a continuation of last week's regular Planning Board meeting, which was cut short when Planner Kyle Hanlon fell ill and was taken to the hospital. Hanlon was in attendance last night and said he was feeling much better.
In other business, the board approved:
• The move of pet supplies store Bark 'N Cat from Eagle Street to 28 Holden St. Owner Christa Abel said the business is outgrowing the space it currently occupies with Persnickety toys; she expects to open in late September.
• The development of six artists studio/residential lofts in the Blackinton Mill
• The relocation of J Star Gymnastics to 69 Union St., part of an overall redevelopment of the former automobile dealership by Scarafoni & Associates. Two of the buildings on the property are slated for demolition beginning this week.
• Signage for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts presented by Mick Callahan of Callahan Signs. The signage for the new location for the campus police in what was the Brewer Perkins building at 277 Ashland St. is in line with a re-identification plan for the college. There will also be signage to aid motorists and others in locating departments during the ongoing construction on campus.
• Snoford LLC for property at 76 Union St. was postponed to September at the request of the applicant.
• The reaffirmation the community development plan, which has changed little over the decades. The plan is reaffirmed annually; Leary anticipated that the document will change to align with the master plan currently being formulated.
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Redevelopment Planned for Former Dealership
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Scarafoni Associates is planning to demolish parts of the former car dealership on Union Street and redevelop the rest for commercial use.
The proposal was to be presented to the Planning Board on Monday night but was postponed after one of the planners fell ill and the meeting was adjourned.
"It will allow us to do something with a piece of property that's been sitting there for awhile," said David Bond, who does commercial leasing for Scarafoni Associates.
The first tenant will be J Star Gymnastics, owned by Jonathan Girard. Girard said he closed his studio on Curran Highway about a month ago because the space wasn't working out. "We didn't want to close but it was something that had to be done," he said.
He's hoping to move his growing business — 60 students now and a cheerleading group — into the Union Street complex "as soon as possible." The move will require a special permit from the Planning Board to operate a gymnastics studio in an Industrial-1 zone.
Scarafoni and Associates is proposing to redevelop the former Chevrolet dealership on Union Street into commercial space. The building to the left, which sustained structural damage during the winter, will be torn down to provide more parking.
J Star will move into the 18,000-square-foot building along Union Street but won't take up the entire structure. Bond envisions using the rest of the building — showroom section of the former Shapiro/Gateway Chevrolet — for community or recreational uses such as Zumba classes.
Bond said the work will be done in phases, with the demolition of the sections of the buildings in poor condition. The garage area next to the showroom facing Canal Street was severely damaged from this past winter's heavy snow and is scheduled to be removed this month, pending approval by the Building Department. An older section between the Windsor Mill and the dealership on Union will also be demolished.
The property was originally part of the Windsor Mill until being operated as a car dealership since the 1940s. It's been sitting empty since Gateway moved out several years, part of a countywide consolidation of new car dealers.
Parking spots will replace the torn-down buildings and the property will be subdivided into three separate parcels, each with a building ranging from 12,000 to 18,000 square feet. The entire property is just under six acres.
Bond said the parcels could be further divided into commercial, retail and light industrial space with leasing or sale costs based on renovation requirements. It will be done in phases with plans by Westall Architects and will include landscaping along Union Street (Route 2).
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Planning Board Meeting Cut Short By Illness
Planners Joanne Derose, Wayne Wilkinson and Paul Senecal with a rendering of the west side of the Blackinton Mill.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board's Monday meeting was cut short after one its members became ill.
Planner Kyle Hanlon became ill and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. With Planners Joseph Gniadek, Paul Hopkins and Donald Keagan absent, it was determined that a quorum was not present and the meeting was ended after 15 minutes.
Chairman Michael Leary, left, and Planners Kyle Hanlon and Brian Miksic listen to David Moresi, at left. Shortly afterward, Hanlon excused himself.
The board had just wrapped up a public hearing on an application for a special permit for residential units in the Blackinton Mill when Hanlon excused himself. David Moresi of Moresi Associates, who was representing Magid Mill LLC in the hearing and is also a paramedic, was called into the hallway to assess Hanlon and an ambulance was called to City Hall.
Prior to that, Moresi had been presenting a proposal for six 1,000-square-foot loft/studio units in the Massachusetts Avenue mill. Moresi said the artists lofts, the only residential spaces allowed in an industrial zone, are the second phase in the redevelopment of the historic mill.
"We have to basically market this toward an artist clientele in this particular zoning," he said. "With the Williamstown Theatre being there, with another entity we're in discussions with, it ties in well."
Williamstown Theatre Festival set up its production facilities in the mill earlier this spring. Moresi said since April, "just north of $500,000" has been invested in the building.
Planner Wayne Wilkinson asked if the exterior and landscaping will be completed before the lofts are. Moresi said it would be done in tandem but the west side of the building is dependent on the owners reaching a deal on city-owned land abutting the property.
Nor would the development of the units be dependent on purchase agreements since they will be rentals, he said. "We get a lot of calls, believe it or not, from people looking to rent studio space."
He did caution that while the owners were eager to start, they were cautious businessmen.
"They are ready to move forward ... obviously, the global economy, the national economy plays a big role as it does in any significant development project," Moresi said. "Obviously, the news over the past few days (in the stock market) makes us all step back a bit but they're pretty excited."
Also postponed was an application by Snoford LLC for a special permit to operate a package store, by request; a hearing on a special permit for Bark-N-Cat to move from Eagle Street to 28 Holden St.; and a hearing on a special permit for J Star Gymnastics to operate at 69 Union St.
Editors' Note: all the cases were approved at the rescheduled meeting the following week.
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Planners OK Newspaper Move, Garage Rebuild
The former McClellands at 87 Main will be the new home of the Transcript — within spitball distance of iBerkshires.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday, July 11, approved special permits for the relocation of the North Adams Transcript, the reconstruction of Cariddi Auto and the expansion of Creation and Empire Antiques.
The Transcript, which is selling its building at 124 American Legion Drive to Scarafoni Associates, is moving to 87 Main St., formerly occupied by McClelland's.
The 3,000 square feet will be used for the newspaper's staff and advertising department and is expected to be occupied within the next month or two.
Guy R. Cariddi is rebuilding his auto sales and garage at 676 Curran Highway that went up in flames earlier this year. The new building will be constructed two feet south of the current site to comply with current setbacks and will be 148 square-feet larger.
"While it was a disaster for Mr. Cariddi, it will allow the building to be reconstructed to meet code," said attorney Stephen Pagnotta, representing Cariddi. "It will be a brand-new building."
The board approved a special permit for new construction in an I-1 zone, with all prior conditions in place.
Keith Bona, owner of Creations, and James Montepare, owner of Empire Antiques, are expanding into what had been Main Street Stage at 57 Main St. The two successfully combined forces last year to expand from Bona's gift shop operation at 59 Main St. into 61 Main.
"We want the signage to flow over all three [storefronts]," said Bona. "They will be big letters, molded, antique gold similar to what is currently on Shear Madness and what was prior on Moulton's General Store ... on a green background."
He said the space is currently painted all black but once done, he expected 57 Main to be the most beautiful. "It has the orginal tin ceilings, the original hardwood floors and some of the original woodwork."
They also asked for extended hours to 10 p.m. for special events and added Sunday hours of 10 to 5, although they expected to only open from 10 to 2. Regular hours are 10 to 5.
In other business:
• The board approved signage and a special permit for Public Eat and Drink at 34 Holden St. Jared Decoteau has purchased Taylor's Restaurant and plans to reopen as Public once all permits and licenses are in place.
• Kennard and Janet Sherman, who ran into objections last month about their proposal to turn a neglected property at 456 Ashland St. into a retail business, withdrew their application.
• An application by Snoford LLC to open a package store at 76 Union St. was continued.
• A request by Yaling Wang of the Sushi House at 37 Main St. to put tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant was approved, although the board requested she work with the Office of Community Development on the appearance of the tables and chairs. Wang said no alcohol will be served outside the restaurant.
• Reviewed the parking modifications being done by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Ashland Street. The college plans to add more green space between the lots and the street, add more lighting and remove an island between the property owned by the MCLA Foundation and the state.
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