The public hearing for the zoning change required the attendance of the Planning Board and City Council.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday voted to recommend a zoning amendment that would allow Greylock Works to open a distillery in an I-2 (industrial) district.
During a joint City Council and Planning Board session held immediately prior to the board's regular meeting, the board speedily gave its endorsement to an ordinance change in less than four minutes that would allow the manufacturing of alcohol at Greylock Works.
"This is a request made by Greylock Works in order to be able to have the ability to manufacture alcohol on premise which they currently do not by zoning," Planning Board Chairman Michael Leary said. "This is part of their overall plan."
Owners of the former textile mill, Karla Rothstein and Salvatore Perry, are in the midst of renovating the property. What is slated to be a $15 million project will include events, food production, restaurants, bar, and a hotel and 23 high-end condominiums.
There were few questions for Perry, who attended the meeting, but he did say the distillery plans to make rum.
"Specifically, a rum distillery but the application would not restrict us to that," he said.
Building Inspector William Meranti said the use was not allowed in the district because of safety concerns. Storing and producing alcohol is a potential fire hazard.
He said because the building code now regulates the amount of alcohol that can be stored, suppression regulations and other items, the city should have no concerns.
"I think we have it covered in a different fashion now," he said.
One of the goals of the Greylock Works project is to provide space for artisan food production. A distillery or fermenting facility of some kind has been on its list, along with cheesemaking, baking and other food industries.
After closing the joint public hearing, the Planning Board opened its regularly scheduled meeting and Perry went over Phase 2 of the parking lot improvements.
"It would be similar to what we did [in Phase 1]," he said. "Plantings, pedestrian pathways, lighting and permeable paving. It will be similar materials and aesthetic."
Much of the parking lot has already been improved and this phase extends toward the Greylock Club and State Road. The MassDevelopment awarded Greylock Works $1.72 million to complete the parking lot. The project received $2.2 million in 2016 to do the south side of the lot, a reinforced concrete entrance off Protection Avenue and a loading dock.
The mill's expansive Weave Shed has already been utilized for a number of events, including a artisans' festival, the annual PopCares dinner, and recent dances.
In other business, the Planning Board approved the application of Ashley Strazzinsk who requested a special permit to operate a social/community flex space for artists, educational workshops and performances in a CA-2 zone on 50 Ashland St.
"I am going to open up a studio and office space, but it will also be a community flex space for people to just come, hang out and work in there," she said. "It is also an opportunity to host events and educational workshops."
She said usage of the space is temporary and it will only be open May through September. It will eventually be renovated and used for something else.
Strazzinsk did ask for a last-minute name change from North Adams Project Space to Ashland Street Project Space. She said she wanted to make this change because the former acronym was the same as the North Adams Public Schools and to better fit the more temporary nature of the space.
The board also approved a special permit request from David Carver who wants to operate a public warehouse with 25 storage spaces in an I-2 zone at 85 Union St., the former Gateway Chevrolet complex.
"The last 40 to 50 years, it has been used for warehousing and light manufacturing," Carver said. "We will continue to use it as warehouse space, but we would like to open it up a little bit more and rent some of the space at the ground level."
He said there won't be 24-hour access and only plans for it to be open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Planning Board member Brian Miksic asked if Carver still planned to demolish a section of the mill that connects to the city-owned Windsor Mill. The mill is under a purchase-and-sales agreement, pending environmental testing.
Carver said that was his goal and that the area would be used for additional parking.
"We are still working out environmental issues, sprinkler issue, and separation issued," he said. "For years there was an artist there and he left last fall, so now we are moving that project along."
Editor's note: edited April 10 to clarify the Planning Board's vote was advisory. The ordinance will now go to the City Council.
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Drury Graduate to Direct Horror Film in North Adams
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Drury High School graduate is hoping to bring his dream — or, more appropriately, his nightmare — to film life.
The horror film "The Uncredited," written by Nick Burchard, will be filmed in North Adams this spring, pending fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic. Burchard's Tiny Viking Productions is making the film in conjunction with Sancha Spiller and Kasey Rae of Skylah Productions of New York City.
"I grew up in the area, and I've always appreciated the historical places, in particular the Hoosac Tunnel, Mohawk Theater, and the old mills," Burchard said. "I think North Adams has a very unique setting, with the mountains surrounding the city and of course, all the steeples.
"The Uncredited" follows a young woman who appears in an independent film. While watching it, her friends notice something disturbing in the background of her scene. This leads to rumors and distrust in even the closest group of friends.
"My goal is to make great characters, and even though it's a spooky thriller the characters in it are just friends sitting down to watch a movie together," Burchard said. "They crack jokes, roast each other, and are all collectively trying to have a good time … but that juxtaposed with the realization that one of them might be hiding something is what creates the thriller edge to this. I think it's really fun."
Spiller added that the film does not rely on horror tropes such as jump scares. She said the screenplay is character-driven.
"It showcases our greatest fear of not knowing the people around us as well as we think," she said. "It makes us second guess who we trust and remember that just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have horrifying consequences."