image description
Voters at Tuesday's special town meeting approved a number of articles including buying property for a police station and a change in zoning bylaws.

Williamstown Town Meeting OKs Police Station Land Purchase, Zoning Bylaws

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

Planning Board Chairman Chris Kapiloff explains proposed zoning bylaw changes to town meeting on Tuesday.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — School regionalization was not the only issue to sail through Tuesday's special town meeting without debate.
The town approved eight other warrant articles with minimal discussion, advancing a plan to replace the town's police station and authorizing changes to the town's zoning bylaws.
Voters OK'd the $300,000 acquisition of .42 acres on Simonds Road (U.S. Route 7), including the building that used to be the Turner House for veterans.
When the non-profit Turner House announced its plan to suspend operations, the town in October 2016 eyed it as a potential site to replace the crowded and inadequate home for the Williamstown Police Department at Town Hall.
Those plans were announced in the spring of this year, after the town engaged an architect to assess whether the Simonds Road site could meet the needs of the department.
According to information provided to the voters prior to Tuesday's meeting, the town still has about $265,000 available for architectural and design services from the $321,000 previously authorized at town meetings in 2004, 2012 and 2013. And the estimated cost of renovation and expansion to Turner House is in the neighborhood of $5 million.
Town Manager Jason Hoch reported to the town Tuesday that he hopes to have a full building program, including costs, ready for approval in time for May's Annual Town Meeting, with the hope of moving the the police station by fall 2019.
The town also accepted the donation of 9 acres on Main Street (Route 2), hoping part of it one day will serve as the link between a bike trail planned in town and a similar trail in the city of North Adams. The Williamstown portion recently was reviewed at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's 25 percent design hearing but is waiting for signoff from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has jurisdiction over the former Spruces Mobile Home Park property.
Article 4 on the agenda was a utility easement for Berkshire Gas, which want to move a regulator station from a subterranean location across the street to a new above ground Church Street location on the northeast corner of the Williamstown Elementary School property.
Planning Board Chairman Chris Kapiloff explained the five zoning changes recommended by his committee. The changes were generally designed to create consistency in the bylaw. One made parking changes for existing residential development similar to the existing requirement for commercial development; another placed the same requirement for hotels on property in the Southern Gateway district that already exists in the town's center.
One of the amendments closes a "doughnut hole" created by the Cable Mills Overlay District. The special district that allowed multi-family housing at Water Street's Cable Mills site created an island of properties on the street, surrounded by the overlay district, that do not enjoy the same rights enjoyed by their neighbor. Tuesday's town meeting action grants the same rights to those properties.
In a move that is in line with the Planning Board's stated goal of increasing housing options, the board sought and received the town's blessing for changes in Williamstown's Planned Business and Limited Business districts. Specifically, it now will be easier for a developer to seek approval for multi-family homes in those districts.
"Currently, it's really hard to build housing in Planned Business or Limited Business," Kapiloff explained. "We'd like to make it easier if someone wanted to build a housing development in someplace zoned for business.
"One thing we've been studying is what young people want for housing, and most young people want to live in the center of town. This will make it easier for them to have housing where they want to live."

Tags: police station,   special town meeting,   

1 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Williamstown's Racial Equity Committee Discusses Core Principles

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee on Monday discussed a statement of principles to guide the group's work as it seeks to work for justice in the college town of 7,700.
Among those principles: a recognition of the current injustice.
"We are beginning from the assumption that, like every other community in the U.S., our town and its residents are impacted by racism," the fourth paragraph of a seven-paragraph draft document reads. "Our work is to discover if our town's institutions and rules (policies, laws and regulations) deliberately or inadvertently encode such inequalities. Our goal is not to assess blame, but to seek accountability where appropriate and change where needed."
Committee members Aruna D'Souza and Kerri Nicoll developed the draft. And although there was no formal vote to adopt the language on Monday, there appeared to be general agreement that the pair had captured the spirit of the committee.
View Full Story

More Williamstown Stories