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Cumberland Farms has withdrawn its plans for Commercial Street until it can hold a meeting with neighbors.

Cumberland Farms Withdraws Adams Application

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Attorney Thomas Reidy asks the board to approve the plan's withdrawal. The board had been set to make a decision at Tuesday's meeting. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Cumberland Farms is backing off its controversial proposal to develop a convenience store and gas station on Commercial Street — at least for the moment.
The company was supposed to make a final pitch before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday but instead asked to withdraw its plans without prejudice, which would allow it to resubmit them at a later date. The ZBA approved. 
Although the town received the request from Cumberland Farms' legal counsel, Bacon Wilson Attorneys at Law of Springfield, attorney Thomas Reidy was still present at the meeting to announce a scheduled community meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
"We will have our engineer, our traffic engineer, developer, and have a conversation with the neighbors to get some feedback," he said. "Some real feedback to see if the project can be designed in a way that will satisfy their concerns." 
The company has been promising to hold a community for months and has asked for continuances by letter three times. The ZBA had agreed to one more continuance to Tuesday's meeting and demanded a representative attend.
Cumberland Farms has proposed to demolish Al's Service Center at 95 Commercial St. and two other structures, all owned by Carol Ostrowski, and build a gas station/convenience store just south of its older location that will be closed.
The project is line with the company's revamping and building of larger stations with more fueling stations and greater food and to-go offerings. It's built two new Cumberland Farms in North Adams in the last few years and was recently approved for a third station just south of its smaller, 36-year-old store. 
It's cramped Adams store also dates from the 1980s and this would be the first Cumberland Farms in the community since that time. 
During the first public hearing in June, the plans were met with harsh resistance from abutters and the company faced questions from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Neighbors were concerned about the development of a 24-hour facility on a section of Commercial Street that's largely residential. 
The street, Route 8, also sees heavy traffic during certain times of the day that they believed the new store would cause congestion. The Traffic Commission, however, did see any problems and thought the plans and layout were good. 
At June ZBA meeting, Cumberland Farms legal representatives asked to extend the hearing and pledged to take this input back to headquarters. When August meeting came around, Cumberland Farms did not show but asked for another extension to September to allow ample time to hold a community meeting with the abutters.
Cumberland Farms did not attend this September meeting and asked for an extension to Dec. 11. They did not hold the promised community meeting.
In September, a wary ZBA entertained not approving the extension, which would essentially deny the three variances Cumberland Farms is seeking. However, board members decided against this because they were concerned that denying the project without the Cumberland Farms representatives present could land the board in legal trouble.
But this extension would not be in the distant month of December but early October and would be a final hearing in which Cumberland Farms' presence was required.
Reidy said the withdrawal will allow time for more conversation with the neighborhood and the development of a "working group" of sorts.
"We want everyone to know about this, so we can have a proactive meeting about where we go from here," he said.
He said the meeting will be held at Town Hall at 5:30 on Wednesday, Oct. 17.


Tags: ZBA,   cumberland farms,   

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Three Berkshires Women Named 'Unsung Heroines'

Liz Mitchell and state Rep. John Barrett III at Tuesday's 2019 Unsung Heroine ceremony at the State House. 

BOSTON — Three Berkshires women were named Unsung Heroines for 2019 during a State House ceremony on Tuesday.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds nominated Donna Cesan for this recognition because of her dedication to community, having served as Community Development Director and interim Town Administrator for the town of Adams for 19 years.

Elizabeth "Liz" Mitchell, a North Adams resident and advocate for domestic violance victims with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, was nominated by state Rep. John Barrett III and Marie Richardson of Pittsfield, a caseworker in the Pittsfield Public Schools, was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

"Donna has selflessly given countless hours of her time to ensure Adams is moving in the right direction," said Hinds. "She is well-respected in her hometown of Lanesborough, and the town of Adams is well-served by her. She is absolutely an Unsung Heroine for her dedication to our region and her professionalism, which is effortlessly showcased in all of her projects."

Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually celebrates "unsung heroines" who don't always make the news, but who make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

Hinds said Cesan has dedicated her career to public service. As the director of community development, she has spearheaded economic development projects with big impact, like the construction of a platform for the Adams terminus of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service, the renovation of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot and implementing the community's vision for the Greylock Glen. Since 2014, she has been asked twice by the Board of Selectmen to also serve as interim town administrator, managing every aspect of municipal government for months, while also promoting community development initiatives in town.
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