Lanesborough Nears New PILOT Agreement with Berkshire Wind

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen hammered through a series of approvals Monday night in just over 30 minutes.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town has agreed to a new payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp.
 
The new agreement replaces the three-year agreement the town entered with the proprietors in 2011. According to Jeff Blake, an attorney from Kopelman & Paige representing the town, the agreement is a "better agreement" because it outlines the deal more clearly. 
 
However, Blake said there is still some difference of opinion on the depreciation of the materials at the wind farm. The company has a schedule of depreciation over 33 years, which they say is industry standard.
 
But, Blake is handing that schedule over to the town's consultants on the project for their opinion first.
 
"The agreement itself won't change. The only thing that will is change is this schedule," Blake said.
 
The attorney said he believes it should be a 20-year schedule. By condensing the time, the town would be in line to see $4,361 more each year. The company has already provided an itemized list of assets.
 
Berkshire Wind is a non-profit organization so is free from taxes. However, it is required to provide a PILOT. The agreement with Lanesborough assesses the personal property at $1.8 million and the town will tax that accordingly. 
 
The Board of Selectmen approved the contract pending an agreement on the depreciation schedule. 
 
The agreement helps to avoid the situation Hancock found itself in with the company. After the PILOT agreement there expired, the two sides were seeking a new deal but not quick enough. Hancock filed a lawsuit against the company for PILOT fees not paid while the two sides were hashing out an agreement. The company ultimately made the payment to Hancock.
 
In other business, the town approved the following events for Saturday, Aug. 8.
 
The Lanesborough Firemen's Association will be holding a block dance at Bill Laston Memorial Park. The band Whiskey City will be the headlining act and vendors will be serving beer, wine, and food. The event is $10 for adults and doors will open around 6 p.m. The music ends at 11 p.m.
 
The Berkshire Mall is holding a "family fun day," a new promotion featuring the Raptor Project, puppet shows by the Puppet Brigade, the farmers market's corn festival, and special at mall stores. The Raptor Project is an educational program that teaches children about birds of prey. WBEC will be broadcasting live. 
 
The activities will be held in the parking lot of the Berkshire Mall between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Tags: PILOT,   wind farm,   

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Lanesborough Elm Tree Named Largest in State

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — King Elmer is living up to his name, now deemed the largest American Elm in the state.

Jim Neureuther, chair of the Tree and Forrest Committee, happily reported this to the Select Board on Monday.  The Department of Conservation and Recreation released an updated Champion Trees list on May 4 with the town's over 100-foot tall elm at the top.

"It's official, King Elmer is the largest American Elm tree in Massachusetts," Neureuther said.

Located at the corner of Route 7 and Summer St., the king is believed to be over 250 years old and is 107 feet tall with an average canopy spread of 95.5 feet.  It scored 331.88 points with the state based on a 201-inch circumference, which is a 64-inch diameter (5'4 through the middle of the tree.)

King Elmer dethroned the former champion elm in Old Deerfield Village that has been cut down.  In 2019, Neureuther traveled to Franklin County to see it only to find a stump, prompting him to submit the Lanesborough tree's official measurements.

He thought, "Wait a minute, we're moving up the ranks now."

The second-place elm scored 320 points, giving King Elmer a lead in the race barring the loss of a limb.

Earlier this year, the town was notified by the Arbor Day Foundation that it had been recognized as Tree City USA for 2023, a long-held designation.  

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