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The former Itam Lodge has been renovated and neighbors are concerned with extra traffic going to and from the place.

Pittsfield Grants Waiver For Proprietor's Lodge

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board on Tuesday granted a parking waiver to Proprietor's Lodge despite opposition from neighbors.
 
The former Itam building was renovated into a new reception hall and restaurant and the owner is looking to expand with a new ceremony room and a breakout space. But the neighbors feel the traffic congestion has gotten out of control and objected to the plans feeling that it will cause even more problems. 
 
The company sought a parking waiver but officials said they had no plans to expand occupancy. The building has a set capacity of 339 people and the new space would add another 71 to that. But attorney Dennis Egan said the company has no plans to seek an increase in capacity and that the spaces will instead just be for additional uses for the same number of guests.
 
"This parking issue has been happening for decades. It is more pronounced now because the facility is in more use," said Community Development Board member Gary Levante.
 
The board said that since the total capacity isn't changing, the waiver isn't going to address the issues that currently exist. However, to help ease the problems, the board asked for a parking management plan. 
 
Egan presented that plan on Tuesday. It entails operating a shuttle service from property Eric Taylor owns in Lanesborough for large events. When the venue's spaces are filled, the event-goers will park at the offsite area and be shuttled over free of charge.
 
He continued to say six spaces will be allocated for carpool only to encourage people to ride together and there will be a designated space for taxis, Uber, and other drop-offs. He said there will be a parking attendant on site helping control issues and that no person will be allowed into an event if they park on the side streets. Egan also said if attendance to an event is expected to have more than 250 people then the restaurant will close for the evening.
 
City Councilor Anthony Simonelli, who was in attendance, said new no-parking signs were put up and that he has filed petitions to make Overlook Road near the hall a one-way street and to install stop signs at the end of Constitution, Waubeek, and Spaniol streets. 
 
"The city is doing what the city can do to help with the problems," Simonelli said.
 
However, he called on Taylor to be a good neighbor. A number of residents spoke at two separate meetings on the issue saying there have been a lot of issues with traffic generated from the establishment.
 
"We have increased traffic throughout and a parking waiver isn't going to take that away," said Linda Pensivy.
 
The neighbors cited not only issues with parking and speeding but also the behavior of both guests and employees leaving the establishment at night.
 
The board tinkered with the parking management plan before ultimately approving it. 
 
"Even if we were to deny this permit tonight, every single issue you identified is still going to be happening," Levante said.

Tags: parking,   Planning Board,   

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Letter: Problematic Proposed Lenox Short-Term Rental Bylaw

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Under the proposed short-term rental Lenox bylaw, "up to two bedrooms in a dwelling unit may be rented year-round by right provided that the owner or tenant is occupying the dwelling unit at the time of the rental."

Presumably, bedrooms may not be rented at all if the owner or tenant is not occupying the dwelling unit.

In other words, literally, the very same use is allowed by one type of owner (an owner occupying the dwelling unit), but not another type of owner (one who does not occupy the dwelling unit where bedrooms are being rented). Because there is identical use and intensity and the only thing that differs is the type of owner or renter; it is hard to view this as mere regulation of use and not ownership.

The other provision suffers from the same problem. Suppose there is a duplex or land with two houses on it (perhaps an old robber-baron estate) but with separate owners for each dwelling unit. Under the rule regarding "dwelling units being rented in their entirety," "an entire dwelling unit maybe rented up to 75 days per calendar year by right," and "an entire dwelling unit may be rented for an additional 35 days (up to 110 days) per calendar year by Special Permit."

But then suppose there is unity of ownership and one person owns the entire duplex or both houses. In that case, "the above totals apply to the entire parcel" and "the day limits defined above shall be apportioned among those dwelling units."

A town can regulate the number of days a short-term rental may be utilized under the newly passed statute: but this additional restriction based on who owns the premises is a regulation of ownership and not use.

The same is instinct through other parts as well. Of course, Lenox residents or their guest can park in the street. But if you are renting a short-term rental, "All overnight parking must be within the property's driveway or garage." If you own or rent property, so long as you get the right permits, you may entertain on your property. But if you are a short-term renter, "events that include tents or amplified music or which would customarily require a license or permit are not allowed."

Since 1905, when Home Rules was put into the [Massachusetts] Constitution, towns could pass their own bylaws, so long as there was no regulation of a civil relationship unless it was an incident to a legitimate municipal power. This meant, among other things, zoning laws had to regulate use and not ownership. It is now a fundamental principle of Massachusetts zoning that it deals basically with the use, without regard to the ownership of the property involved, or who may be the operator of the use. This bylaw appears to violate this fundamental tenet.

By way of example of the you-may-regulate-use-but-not-ownership rule, it has been held that a city did not have authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to pass an ordinance that affected the civil relationship between tenants and their landlord, who wished to convert their rental units to condominiums. In another case, a municipal ordinance which restricted a landlord's ability to terminate a lease and remove his property from the rental market in order to sell it was invalid.

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