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The zoning changes along Tyler Street are designed to modernize uses and create more flexibility.

Pittsfield Community Development Sees Tyler Zoning Amendment

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Community Development Board is sending the recommended changes to the City Council. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board has kicked the Tyler Street overlay district zoning amendments to the City Council for consideration.
 
The board heard a presentation from City Planner CJ Hoss on Tuesday night and signed off on some changes that would modernize zoning in that area and create more flexibility.
 
"It allows greater opportunity for economic revitalization and establishes a mix of complementary uses to help reduce urban sprawl and make more economical and efficient use of  property," Hoss said. "It will help stimulate and revitalize the Tyler Street area."
 
Last month, the board voted to act as petitioner on the zoning amendment that would create an overlay that stretches from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue and down Kellogg Street. 
 
The amendment would accommodate modern uses such as shared work spaces, live/work spaces, and other mixed uses.
 
"Small-scale creative services are largely around making things," Hoss said. "A lot of that is rolled into manufacturing in our zoning and that is only allowable in industrial areas." 
 
He said this could include a small brewery or a small textile manufacturer. 
 
The city began discussions on this overlay some years ago. Hoss said when Walmart initially proposed opening in the William Stanley Business Park, the city received inquiries from large national retailers who wanted to demolish and/or construct properties that were really a better fit for a suburban neighborhood -- not Tyler Street.
 
"This has been a work in progress," he said. "This is an effort without totally digging up all of the base zoning to put in place something that allows a bit more in the base general business."
 
Hoss said the biggest change would be in the in this southeast "boot" that is currently zoned Commercial-Warehousing and Storage. He said the most easterly portion of this block would be converted to General Business. The west portion would be converted to Multi-Family Residential.
 
Mostly residential units occupy this area, he said, so this change would align zoning with actual use while making possible development easier.
 
"We want to try to stabilize that part of the neighborhood because it is still primarily residential but the residential uses are technically not conforming uses," Hoss said. "Instead of continuing to allow degradation with some uses that are allowed in the district."
 
Current business in this area should not be affected at all and can continue operation.
 
Large-scale multi-family housing is really not an option in the area because the parcels are smaller, he said, and the city would promote smaller multi-family housing units that would diversify the city's housing stock. 
 
The change in the northwest corner is quite smaller: the zoning of a single plot will go from Multi-Family Residential to General Business. Hoss said it makes the zoning more consistent and really affects a small parcel currently used for housing and that this use will be allowed to continue.
 
The amendment also would change parking regulations and reduce mandated parking regulations to one spot per unit. 
 
It also makes parking changes for businesses. If a business is moving into an existing storefront, it will not have to automatically seek a parking waiver to continue a historic use.
 
Hoss said this more flexible business parking is already used downtown.
 
There are still special permit triggers that would really only affect large development projects and new construction.
 
The City Council will see this proposal in the new year. From there it will be go back to the Community Development Board for another hearing.

Tags: Planning Board,   tyler street,   zoning,   

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Pittsfield Police Chief Says Too Soon Assess Budget Cut Impact

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's only one month into the fiscal year so it's still not clear how cuts made to the city's police budget will play out. 
 
Police Chief Michael Wynn told the Police Advisory and Review Board that it is still too soon to tell how the reduced budget will affect operations.
 
"It is up in the air we really just got a budget past," Wynn said. "Operationally we really are just getting our feet under us."  
 
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