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North Adams Council OKs $5K for Zoning Review; Mayor Sets Spectrum Hearing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has called for performance evaluation hearing related to Charter Spectrum's compliance with its contract with North Adams. 
Mayor Thomas Bernard announced at Tuesday's City Council the hearing will be held on Monday, May 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the American Legion. 
The cable and internet provider has come under fire for channel changeups, poor customer service, and the imposition of high fees for its digital boxes. Hundreds of people attended a hearing in Pittsfield in March to air their grievances. 
The city has a right to call for a performance hearing to review compliance in a number of areas, to hear about technological advances or to simply allow customers to comment or complain.
Bernard encouraged residents to "come to the meeting and have your voice heard." Charter Spectrum customers can also submit written comments by mailing them to the mayor office or by email to Administrative Assistant Michelle Ells at
The city is pursuing a $50,000 state grant to help it revamp its zoning ordinances, including putting the zones in a Geographic Information Systems format. 
The City Council on Tuesday approved a $5,000 transfer from free cash to combine with a $10,000 District Local Technical Assistance toward the zoning update. 
Those funds are also being used as a match toward the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs grant through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. 
"This came at the recommendation of the BRPC so they felt we would be a strong candidate," Bernard said. The mayor added there had been internal conversations about asking for the $5,000, which put the city's match above the minimum match by $2,500. "I think the little bit of extra shows that we're serious, that we've got more skin in the game and may help us in securing the grant. "
A communique was provided from BRPC Assistant Director Thomas Matuszko outlining what the comprehensive zoning update would entail: Updating the zoning map to GIS and aligning zoning boundaries with property lines; reviewing uses within zones and exploring combining zones or creating multi-use zones; amend regulation schedules; amend or create overlay districts; update off-street parking requirements.
Bernard said the city could adopt some priority development overlays to promote economic opportunities and look at how to incorporate things like short-term rentals once state legislation is passed. 
"The full scope is going to depend on if we are talking about a $10,000 project, a $15,000 project or a $65,000 project and that's going to give us different levels of opportunity," he said.
The council approved the fund transfer unanimously.
"I'd like to say I'm particularly happy, personally, to see this, getting things in GIS format," Councilor Eric Buddington said. "I've found in the past it's really hard to look at our zoning ordinances and answer the question, 'what applies in this particular lot.' "
Being able to see the zoning in GIS will make it access a lot easier, he said. 
In other business: 
The council confirmed the reappointment of Marilyn DeRosa as a registrar of voters for a term to expire April 1, 2021.
• The council approved the renewal of a secondhand license for Sanford & Kid on Houghton Street. 
• A zoning ordinance change was delayed over confusion on wording. The change would allow the production and processing of alcohol at Greylock Works, which is in an I-2 zone. Councilors had no issues with the intent but rather over the suggested language changes that appeared to open up alcohol production in other zoning areas where it is currently prohibited. 
After some discussion on next steps, President Keith Bona, who had submitted the change on behalf of Greylock Works, said he would contact the company's attorney F. Sydney Smithers for clarification and bring in the city solicitor if needed. A motion was made and passed to postpone to the next meeting.
• Administrative Officer Michael Canales gave a presentation on the transfer station, the same one that had been provided to the Public Services Committee last week. There was discussion largely on the operations and Canales answered questions from the council and audience. 
• Robert Cardimino said he has been gathering signatures against the proposed ban on single-use bags. 
• The council was informed that the Planning Board has set a joint hearing with the council on Monday, May 14, at 5:30 p.m. for proposed amendments to the recently passed retail marijuana ordinance that are related to medical marijuana.

Tags: spectrum,   state grant,   zoning,   

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North County High Schools Make Graduation Plans

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Local high schools have been trying to figure out how to properly send off their graduates in a middle of a pandemic. 
The administrations at four schools in North County have come up with ways they think will adhere to state guidelines to ensure graduates safety from the novel coronavirus.
School officials representing Drury High School, Hoosac Valley High School, Mount Greylock Regional School and McCann Technical School have been meeting regarding the challenges of school closures because of COVID-19.
State Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley on May 21 issued specific guidance regarding graduation plans. This guidance included the following criteria: Ceremonies held up to Saturday, July 18, should be held virtually or in extremely limited other circumstances following safety protocols (e.g., car parades). Ceremonies held beginning Sunday, July 19, may take place outside under the standards outlined in the guidance and assuming the public health data supports the continued opening of our state.
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