Foster Goodrich, left, and Keenan Chenail answer questions on their new plans.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The main house at 976 Notch Road offers sweeping views across the valley. It's the star of the 120 acres Foster Goodrich and his team are hoping to turn into a glamping facility at the foot of Mount Greylock.
Goodrich and development partner Keenan Chenail led the Planning Board through a site visit on the private property Monday to give members a visual of what they're trying to accomplish. Because Goodrich does not yet own the property, only the board and two members of the press were allowed on the tour.
The plans for the development had come under fire from neighbors who raised concerns over traffic on the narrow mountain roads, noise from events and smoke from campfires.
Many of those issues surfaced again in the board meeting immediately following the site visit but Goodrich and Chenail believe the modifications made to their plans will alleviate abuttors' concerns. The board voted to delay a decision until next month to give members time to review the packet of revised plans they received.
"We listened to a lot feedback and we tried to incorporate that in the plans we put in front of you and pointed out during the site visit and hopefully the neighbors and the public recognize that," Goodrich told the board.
Earlier Monday evening, the two partners had showed the board members the post-and=beam building filled with equipment near the beginning of the 1,500 foot driveway that will become the event space. They now plan to move the bath house and retail center to the west side of the building and create a courtyard to contain any sound.
Goodrich said there were no neighbors on that side of the property and the building's subfloor heating system would allow it to be used year-round. The outdoor recreation center's 220 parking spaces would also be clustered around the structure to reduce noise on the rest of the property. Campers would walk or use electric golf carts to get to their campsites.
The developers have also nixed the idea for now of Airstreams or tiny houses on the site, rather sticking to tent structures on raised platforms with luxury amenities. Those would be limited to 48 and clustered in groups of five to reduce the impact and noise.
The 49th site would be the house/lodge at the end of the driveway that would operate as a bed and breakfast year-round using only the master suite. Goodrich said the rest of the lodge with its large living area and commercial kitchen would be used as a cafeteria, for small events and as a gathering place, as well as the large basement area.
"This will be where we hold weddings but not where the party will be," Goodrich said while standing on the open front lawn during the site visit.
In response to questions at the Planning Board meeting, Goodrich and Chenail said they were aware of the water issues and would draw off during down times to refresh a planned water tank. They are also planning to have gas fire pits rather than campfires to reduce smoke "rolling down" the hillside.
Many of the public packed into the City Council chambers revisited issues from last month, despite cautioning from Chairman Michael Leary not to repeat themselves.
Several abuttors brought up noise and Goodrich said an engineer had just finished a survey and found that noise levels would be below the city ordinance. That study would be forwarded to the Planning Board, he said.
A couple people spoke in support of the project as a bringing in economic benefits but many neighbors again expressed doubts about the traffic, sound and environmental impact. At least two whispered that they would be selling their properties based on the plans presented.
"I understand why you folks moved there but we're trying to move forward and be the best neighbors we can be," Goodrich said.
"I think you guys paid attention to what a lot of people had to say at our last meeting," said Planner Brian Miksic. "I am heartened by that, that you want to work with the neighbors, that you listened to the sound issues and changing where the events are happening and changing where sites are located to make that better. It means a lot to me ... that we can come to some sort of agreement between the community and this project."
The board voted to continue the public hearing until next month and approved a host of other businesses:
An application by Chen Li to operate a nail salon at 45 Main St., the former Sushi House.
Application by Brian Miksic to operate a music venue, HiLo, 55 Union St., the former Quinn's Paint and Wallpaper. Miksic presented the application on behalf of Very Good Property Development and abstained from discussion and voting.
An application by Blackinton Operations LLC to renovate 1288 Massachusetts Ave. as a multipurpose event space for Tourists hotel. The former church had been approved as a restaurant last year but presenter Eric Kerns said the focus will be on providing space for hotel events.
Four applications were approved for the Norad Mill at 60 Roberts Drive: for North Point Brands, a fishing retailer, for manufacturing and selling fishing gear and outdoor accessories; for Buckleberry Foods to operate a dessert company; for Artworks, a studio for art therapy and art classes; and as a distribution and retail center for Woodstock South, an arts, crafts and "hippie" merchandiser.
An application of Greylock Works at 508 State Road to operate collaborative workspace.
An application of Doug and Michael Schiazza to operate a bed and breakfast at 253 Kemp Ave.
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North Adams School Committee Votes for Remote Learning
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee on Tuesday rejected a hybrid school reopening model to vote 3-2 to go full remote.
The decision to start school with the remote option was apparently influenced by a letter the School Committee members received from the North Adams Teachers Association expressing concern over re-entering the schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Committee member Tara Jacobs said she was not comfortable potentially exposing staff to the novel coronavirus in motioning to go with the remote option to start and later transition to a hybrid model.
"There's no good scenario but the decision to open the school and have someone dying or having health conditions for the rest of their life ... ," she said, motioning to start the school year remotely.
Peter Oleskiewicz was nominated by Councilor Wayne Wilkinson and elected by unanimous decision. The owner of Desparedo's Mexican Restaurant was 103 votes short for a seat on the nine-member council last November.
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At a meeting in late July, Zachery Feury, project coordinator in the Office of Community Development, gave the commission a presentation on more refined plans for the city's application to the Shared Streets and Spaces grant program.
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The class of 2020's saying is "Time 2 Make History," something this class has certainly done already: the first Drury class go fully online for learning, to have a drive-by graduation, and to have two graduations.
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Instead of talking about the challenges the global pandemic has created for the class, the country, and the world, Harrington talked about some of the class's successes and thanked all those who helped along the way.
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