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The town's zoning has been updated since the 1070s.

Adams to Review, Revamp Outdated Zoning

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen voted last week to start the review of town zoning that has not been updated since the 1970s. 
"I think now is the time," Chairman John Duval said last Wednesday. "There is a lot of discussion already happening and I think it is time we started to look at it."
The board must vote to start the process but the actual review will be kicked to the Zoning and Planning boards.
Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said a thorough review would likely take a year and that the Planning and Zoning boards have already held joint workshops during which they have begun discussing possible changes.
Selectman Joseph Nowak said both boards are off to a good start.
"I thought it was a very fruitful meeting and a lot of situations came up that needed to be addressed in the community," he said of one of the meetings he had attended. "So I agree it is time for us to update our zoning it is well overdue."
Ultimately town meeting must approve the changes.
Duval said he hopes updating zoning could attract more business to Adams.
"We need to do this to bring business into the community. We need growth," he said. "This will allow us to grow and prosper and God knows we are due and deserve it."
The agenda item was referred to as "Commercial St. Zoning" and Nowak said he wanted it to be clear that the discussion goes beyond the proposed Cumberland Farms that was slated to be placed in a residential zone on Commercial Street.
"It kind of puts the emphasis on Cumberland Farms and I think it is a lot more than just Commercial Street," he said. "It is townwide." 
The rest of the board followed suit and Selectwoman Christine Hoyt said she thought it was always "healthy" to review what the town has on the books.
Duval agreed and said next on his list is a charter review.
In other business, Cesan said she met with Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture, which has been selected to design the pocket park on Cook Street at the former Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain.
"They are really excited about the grain elevator and they think that is just something extremely unique," Cesan said. "There excitement for the project was palpable."
The study is being funded through the 2017 Community Development Block Grant and the town also was awarded $200,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the area.
Cesan said there are a lot of "moving parts" and that the town will hire an architect to help determine a future use of the grain elevator and other properties on the parcel.
"As you know it is very visible and it parallels the bike trail and the train excursions," she said. "It has a lot of challenges but also a lot of opportunities and I have been looking forward to this."
Cesan said this will be the last of the three parks to be installed along the bike trail.  
"So this would be the third and probably the final one along the trail and I think it will maybe be the best one," she said. 
She said a steering committee that will contain members of the Berkshire Scenic Railway and a history teacher among others will soon meet and there will be a public meeting at the end of January. 

Tags: pocket park,   zoning,   

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Adams Decides Month-by-Month Budget Going Into Fiscal 2021

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Chairwoman Christine Hoyt says the board is looking to assist restaurant owners with Phase II of Governor Baker's reopening plan.

ADAMS, Mass. — Town Administrator Jay Green and the Board of Selectmen have decided to go the 1/12th budget route for at least the start of fiscal year 2021.

Municipalities across the commonwealth are struggling to not only finalize budgets because of an uncertain financial outlook brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to find a way to physically hold annual town meetings to get those budgets approved. Both situations factored into the decision for the town to settle on the 1/12th option.

When a town can't finalize a budget before the state mandated June 30 deadline, they must revert back to the prior year's budget and operate on a month-to-month basis. Monthly budgets must be approved by the Selectmen and then forwarded to the state Department of Revenue for its approval. Once that is received, the town can begin to pay its expenses for that month only.

Green and the board had been wavering between trying to predict revenue shortfalls for a reduced budget, forging ahead with original revenue projections, or using the 1/12th option.

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