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The Planning Board has endorsed a move to put all of the former St. Francis property in one zone.

Planning Board Recommends Zoning Change for Former Church Lot

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The color scheme and molding treatment on on MountainOne is being replicated on the west side of 85 Main to give the entrance a more cohesive look. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday endorsed a change in zoning for a parcel on the corner of Union and Eagle streets to central business. 
The property, which comprises the former St. Francis of Assisi church location and its rectory, was split into three different zones: residential, industrial and commercial. 
Owner Colvest Inc., through its attorney, Jeffrey Grandchamp, asked that the entire parcel be zoned as central business, or CB1, because the current zones are "largely incompatible."
"Our plan quite simply is to make that corner one zone consistent with all the other corners," he told a joint hearing of the Planning Board and City Council. He understood that the city was already leaning in that direction, but he said, "we can't begin approaching potential tenants or other uses for the property until we can promise some sort of zoning outcome."
The now empty church parcel at 55 Eagle St. and the former rectory at 12 Union, and a few smaller connected parcels, were purchased last September by Colvest Group, operating as Colvest/North Adams LLC. Based in Springfield, the real estate development and management company owns commercial properties throughout Western Massachusetts. 
Colvest has specialized in developing mixed retail shopping centers and office spaces but officials last year said there were no immediate plans for the prominent parcel.  
City Councilor Rebbecca Cohen and Planner Lisa Blackmer questioned how the change would affect the immediate area and why other abutting properties were not being included in the change. 
Grandchamp said his client was not trying to "involve greater zoning changes" on property it did not own. 
Building Inspector William Meranti said the change was in line with recommendations being made by the city, which is consolidating the number of zones and streamlining the 50-year-old zoning map to reflect more modern uses. 
"This is actually very much the way the city was leaning to change that corner anyways," he said. "It was a matter of which one was going to happen first and it took us longer to get there on the city side."
The Planning Board voted to recommend the zoning change to the City Council. The zoning change also is included in the updated map being presented to the Community Development Committee on Aug. 21. 
In other business, the board approved a special permit application for Berkshire Cider Project LLC to operate a craft cidery for producing hard cider at Greylock Works on State Road. 
Matt Brogan, head cidermaker and owner of Berkshire Cider with his wife, Katherine Hand, said the cidery would be working with three local orchards highlighting what is unique to the area, ensuring a sustainable project and creating a revenue stream from branding a premium cider project. He anticipated working with the orchards to grow cider-specific varieties. 
All the juicing would be done at the orchards so there would be little waste at the cidery itself. As for the pulp, he said, "our hope is that it goes to the pigs, which it generally does." 
The cidery would also become a B corporation once established to take into account its impact on business practices, suppliers and employees as a way to give back to the community.
Brogan said there would be at least one employee to start this fall but production wouldn't really begin until next spring to allow the cider to age and when several other full-time and part-time workers would come on. 
Planners also approved changes to signage at Carr Hardware and a facade change to 85 Main St. that will bring it in line with the recently updated MountainOne Investments design on the east side of the building. The green and gold lettering on the west side will be changed to match the gray of MountainOne. The work will be done by Jack Cerveira of At Your Service Inc. of Pittsfield and the new signage by Graphic Impact.
• Planners ordered enforcement action against Nite Owl Automotive on River Street for excessive vehicles on the lot. Meranti said the garage had paid a "substantial fine" previously and was meeting conditions but has since drifted back out of compliance. 

Tags: commercial zoning,   Planning Board,   st. francis,   

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TD Bank, Citizens Bank Closing in North Adams

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is losing two bank branches in the next couple of months. 
The TD Bank branch on Main Street will close in April and the Citizens Bank branch in Stop & Shop will be replaced by an automated kiosk in February. 
TD Bank informed its customers by letters dated Jan. 21 that the bank will close on April 23. The Spring Street location in Williamstown and the two branches in Pittsfield will remain open. 
TD Bank, in a statement to iBerkshires on Tuesday, said the decision to close the branch at 90 Main St. was done "after a thorough review."
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