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Dollar Tree is planning to move into the vacant spots in the L-Shaped Mall.

North Adams Planners Nix Dollar Store Sign

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The original proposal is similar to the other businesses in the mall.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A supersize Dollar Tree sign got chopped down Monday, but the The Hub got the nod for sidewalk service.

The Redevelopment Authority, meeting for a public hearing prior to the Planning Board, wasn't impressed with The Dollar Tree's proposal to install 4-foot letters along the L-Shaped Mall and told it to come back with a lower figure.

The store is taking over the two storefronts that had been occupied by the Movie Gallery and a third that had last held a kids' clothing store. The interior is currently being refurbished and asbestos removed from the 30-year-old building.

Dollar Tree supplied a sign design in keeping with the 2-foot high signs used by other businesses in the mall, along with a reworked facade with the bright green larger sign.

"Not so many years ago when the owner of the plaza redid the entire place there was a lot of attention to how it looked and this was the design that was arrived at," said Chairman Paul Hopkins. "That really starts to A, break it up, and then it says to anybody else, you can change the facade, too, and I'm wondering what that would eventually do."

Jim Dean, representing The Dollar Tree, said "the reason we use a bigger sign is we don't advertise a lot. So this is really a calling card for us" and helps keep prices low.

The board said it understood the advertising gambit but wasn't prepared to drastically change the building's facade.

"You can have the color you want, you can have the typeface you want, but let's not make it three times the size of everything else," said Hopkins.

The board also expressed concern over the lack of access from the American Legion Drive side of the building. The mall had originally been conceived as being accessible from the parking lot, Main Street and American Legion Drive, but most businesses along the drive had reduced the doors to emergency exits. Dean said that was not likely to change.

There was no love for the Holiday Inn's big green sign.
The Redevelopment Authority also asked that the Holiday Inn reduce the size of the main sign it proposed for the entrance. The freestanding sign, also green, stands more than 8-feet tall. The rest of the new sign package was approved but the inn's general manager, Linette Searcy, was asked to return with sign modifications.

Both matters were continued to next month.

At the Planning Board meeting, The Hub Food & Spirits at 55 Main St. had its special permit amended for outside seating on the sidewalk in front of the building. "We're pretty cramped for space so I'm looking to see how much of the sidewalk i can infringe on," said co-owner Charles Doan.

Building Inspector William Meranti said there was 18 feet of space from the front of the restaurant to the curb. "The obstructions that are there (a tree and light post) are both spaced very conveniently on each side of the restaurant," he said.

Doan, who owns the restaurant with his daughter Kathryn Schilling, said he hasn't purchased any tables but they would likely be similar to those at Christo's and Petrino's. He said stanchions of some kind would be put up to rope off the area.

Planner Joseph Gniadek asked who would be liable if someone was to fall and hurt themselves on the tables. Administrative Officer Jay Green said it fell under the same area as sandwich boards and canopies; either the landlord or the owner of the business would have to assure the city they were covered by insurance.

"If there's someone with drinks, we're going to have to station somebody out there with them," said Doan. "It will have to be watched," added his wife, Barbara.

Doan said he had been approved by the License Commission to serve outside but was waiting approval from the state.

"I just want to have everything in place before I do this," he said. "I won't do this until fall, it's too hot out there anyway."

Planners also:

► Continued a hearing application from Thomas Snow, operating as Snoford LLC, to reopon the former Crystal Hard Hat location at 176 Union St. as a tavern. Landlord Charles "Rusty" Ransford attended the meeting as well. Ransford and Snow said there would be no significant changes to the building. Ransford said that with Grandmother's and the Homestead closed, there was room for another bar to open.

Planners expressed concern over parking, compliance with the current special permit and back taxes, and noted the Homestead on River Street had no affect on the Union Street location. Green said he had checked with the treasurer and Ransford's attorney has entered into a payment agreement on the $9,500 owed; the first payment was made last week.

"I would like to see an actual plan and would like to hear from the License Commission before this board makes a decision," said Hopkins. Snow is scheduled to go before the License Commission on Aug. 24; planners also referred the case to the Traffic Commission because of the recent ban on parking on nearby Canal Street.

► Approved a new sign at the Stop & Shop entrance.

American Cab's new digs on River Street.
► Reviewed letters from Laurie Smith and Candy Tripodes informing the city that American Cab & Livery Company proposes to move from State Road to 40 River Street; and from Janice Esoldi of I've Got Goodies about relocating from 85 Main St. to 73 Main St.

► Referred complaints about Tunnel City Auto brought to the City Council two weeks ago to the Compliance Committee. When questioned on the matter, Meranti he had been to the site numerous times in response to complaints.

"I have yet to find a blatant violation," he said, adding "these neighbors document everything and they say it's happening."

► The long-running fence issue at Pitcher's Mound was finally given the OK to go forward. While the planners cannot concern themselves with rights of way, they did require owner Frederick Spooner to delineate parking and traffic, and install the fence as he described it to the board. Spooner has been asking for months about installing the fence to separate his parking lot from the adjacent Xtramart.

Updated Aug. 11, 2010, at 1:18 to clarify Paul Hopkins is chairman of the Redevelopment Authority; Michael Leary, chairman of the Planning Board, was absent so Hopkins, as vice chairman, also chaired that meeting.

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Letter: Support for Lynette Bond for mayor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I'm writing this letter in support for Lynette Bond as mayor of North Adams. I've known Lynette for nearly 10 years through my previous work at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. She organized one of the first teams when we launched the Mayor's Fitness Challenge, she and her family participated in our Downtown Bikearounds, and she attended our yoga in the parks events.

Lynette was also the lead organizer to help move forward Smoke Free parks and playgrounds throughout the City of North Adams. She believes and understands how important recreation and fitness is to a community and supports the work to get us there.

Lynette was instrumental during the planning for the  city's Vision 2030 Plan as a resident and planning board member. Throughout the Vision 2030 plan was a theme of "nonmotorized and active transportation." This means that we safely connect people to places for work, school, services, outdoor recreation, and improved health. (North Adams Downtown Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, City of North Adams).

A shared-use path to connect with the Mohawk bike and pedestrian path in Williamstown and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams was listed in this Plan as High Importance. I couldn't agree more and I know Lynette shares this thinking. The pedestrian/bike path is the single most important project that provides nonmotorized transportation to the residents of North Adams, with transportation being one of the leading challenges for some of our residents, having a safe way to travel by bike can help to overcome the barrier of transportation.

Lynette understands the intricacies of this project because she worked for the Town of Adams and helped to facilitate the rights of way and other items that needed to happen for the extension of the bike path from Hoosac to Lime Street. A bike path through North Adams is an important way to connect neighborhoods and allows our residents to safely bike and walk within the city and to our neighboring towns.

Along with transportation, residents of all ages can enjoy physical recreation and the health benefits that walking and biking provide. These activities reduce stress and improve the mental well-being of a community. I know Lynette will work well with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the Towns of Adams and Williamstown, MassDOT, and engineers because she has already demonstrated and succeeded in working collaboratively with these partners. She has the experience of working on the Rail Trail extension in Adams and has the passion to ensure we move forward with this critical project for the City of North Adams.

I ask you to vote for Lynette Bond and ensure that the work to advance bikeability and walkability within our city continues.

Amanda Chilson
North Adams, Mass. 

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