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The Planning Board approved a number of special permits on Monday.

North Adams Planners OK Distillery, More Norad Businesses

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The planners approved one new business, one business relocation and the move and expansion of Moresi & Associates into the mill. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday approved a host of businesses, many having to do with the Norad Mill. 
The former Excelsior Print mill on Roberts Drive has been filling up with tenants since being purchased by developer David Moresi last spring. On Monday, they gave the OK to a yarn dyer, a computer repair shop and Moresi's own business office. 
Freia Yarns will take up residence in 4,000 square feet on the second floor of the building.
"I fell out of love with California and in love with the Berkshires," owner Tina Whitmore told the planners. Her 15-year-old business is primarily wholesale and she purchases yarns and dyes them under her label.
Planner Lynette Bond asked if there were any issues surrounding dye disposal. "Most of the dye is taken up by the yarn," Whitmore said, adding that the dye is nontoxic and the amount she produces is not "industrial level."
She was approved for hours from 8 to 8, seven days a week, although she said the hours were more because of her own tendency to work late, not her business's hours. 
"If you don't let me open on Sundays, great, I'll take it off," she laughed. 
Also approved to operate out of the mill was Computer Bug, which closed its store on Main Street a couple weeks ago. The computer repair and sales business also does photo restoration. It will occupy Suite 106 in the mill. 
Moresi told the planners that after all he'd brought forward over the past year, this would be the last special permit he'd be asking for Moresi & Associates for awhile.
"We actually decided it's time for us to relocate our offices to the Norad Mill," Moresi said. "We're really excited about it. We're talking about a 5,000 square foot space, really transformative for our business, it's going to allow us to hire more office staff people as well as it's going to allow us to bring our newly formed sales company all under one roof."
The company has been working out of 1000 Massachusetts Ave., parts of which it also rents out. Moresi said he will maintain that location and already has tenants lined up once space opens up. 
The permit was approved for hours of 24/7. Moresi explained that as a property management company his crews have to be able to respond whenever needed.
He told the planners he is working with Building Inspector William Meranti on a sign that will indicate the businesses in the mill. The sign is being manufactured by an Adams sign company and its location has been plotted out. 
Also on the agenda was a rum distillery planned for Greylock Works. Off-Piste Enterprises LLC, doing business as Ski Bum Rum, will be the first of what mill owner Salvatore Perry hopes will be a thriving artisan and food production venue. 
Some 30,000 square feet of the massive mill on State Road has been set aside for food production, including dairy, fermentation, cheese and baked goods. The distillery wasn't possible until the City Council and Planning Board began an ordinance change allowing it to operate in the I-2 zone.
Neighbor Francis Morandi raised concerns about smells and traffic. Large delivery trucks could block neighbors or damage the narrow Protection Avenue, he said. 
Master distiller Ryan Max Riley said there would be no vapors or fumes. He estimated that he would need deliveries once or twice a month and did not think traffic would be problematic. The tasting room attached to the distillery would be open Friday through Sunday and at 200 square feet could only accommodate eight to 10 people at a time, he said. 
Ski Bum Rum had a craft distillery in Golden, Colo., and distributed to about 150 of taverns and restaurants in that state, according to its website. It specializes in coconut and spiced rums and is a Gold Medal winner in the Denver International Spirit Competition. The Colorado location closed on April 1.
The special permit for the distillery was approved pending the completion of the ordinance change through City Council.  
In other business: 
A special permit for a change of tenant for C&C Auto and Motorsports operated by Cory Spencer and Corey Fortin was approved for 708 State Road. Spencer said the business is a full-service garage and that would be open 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturday from 9 to 3.
The planners and two neighbors questioned the deteriorated condition of the property, which was formerly Tunnel City Auto owned by Mark Laveriere. 
Spencer said he and his partner had already begun cleaning up the property and had plans to repair the front facade and put on a pitched roof but at the moment they were only leasing and did not want to invest too much until they completed the purchase of the property.
Of concern to the board was the trailer part of a tractor-tailer that was sitting in the back and being used for storage. Spencer and Fortin said they also wanted it gone and were pushing Laveriere to remove as much as possible. 
"We're trying to put him to a point, where he's agreeing to get rid of more vehicles," Fortin said. "And one thing, when do buy, it's on paper that as soon as we sign, everything back there, including that tractor-trailer, has to be out."
Susan Lefaver, an abutter who has brought the condition of the property to the planners in the past, asked if the board could refuse the recognize the pre-existing use. The garage has been in continuous use and grandfathered into what is now a largely residential area. Planners told her that any objections would have had to be made years ago and that there was no appeal process in that regard through the city.
•  A special permit application of Bhakti Chaudhari to operate the Subway at 1 Main Street was approved. She said nothing would change. 
• Michele Kirby was approved to operate a beauty salon at 104 River St., owned by Alicia Canary. Kirby operated the Orchid Salon for 38 years on Ashland Street but the building has been sold. One of the new owners is Planner Brian Miksic.
• The planners also recommended to the City Council changes to the marijuana ordinance to include medical marijuana (a joint hearing was held immediately prior); approved a Form A of H.A. George Realty Corporation Inc. to convey property at 651 Ashland St. to an abutter; and approved signs for the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative and Tourists. A sign package submitted by David Atwell for Dave's Package Store on River Street was postponed to the next meeting over questions of the percentage of signage allowed. 

Tags: greylock works,   norad mill,   Planning Board,   

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North Adams Eyeing Federal Relief Funds to Support School Programs

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Department is anticipating an $18.2 million budget for fiscal 2022 based on state budget numbers and state and federal grants.
The appropriation would be level-funded from this year at $17,769,074.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas cautioned that this is still a preliminary budget and that "there are still a lot of moving parts."
"This year it feels a little bit more predictable mainly because the governor did issue a budget on Jan. 27," she told the School Committee's finance subcommittee last week. "So the timeline that by which we're going to know about funding will be better than it was last year."
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