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The town is updating its zoning maps to align with property boundaries.
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Adams Updating 50-Year-Old Zoning Maps

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Adams is moving to update its zoning maps for the first time in nearly 50 years. 
The Planning Board got an update at a Monday workshop on the proposed zoning boundaries and how an information session on the new zoning went last week. 
"You've done a really good job with this," said board member Michael Mach. You put a lot of work into this and it's about time because we haven't done any zoning in the town since, what, the '70s?"
Kevin Towle, senior planner in the Community Development Office, said more than 100 letters were sent out to those whose properties would be affected by the zoning changes but only about a dozen people attended the information session.
"At the meeting there, there were some questions from the public and there some a couple of concerns in terms of procedural aspects but nothing as far as content," he said. 
Towle said he had a couple phone calls from property owners but they were questions that could be answered rather than any overreaching issues. 
The town has worked to align zoning with current uses and to conform with property boundaries to eliminate single parcels split into zones.
"Particularly with the business zones, that's been an issue with where the front is in business and the rear is in residential," Towle said. "Businesses are wanting to expand but because they're different use categories, they can't."
One property had been of interest at last week's meeting, he said: Al's Service Center at the corner of Commercial and Prospect. 
The site, which had been considered for a Cumberland Farms, is being shifted into a Business 2 zone from residential. 
"We've gone back and effectively gotten back to the 1800s and found that property was in business use all the way back then," Towle said. "So we believe that's  what it was originally so we are trying to correct that in this process."
Lisa Gazaille said she'd been involved in an land surveying error in the past that had caused issues. She asked if the new zoning map would open up to the town to any similar concerns. 
"This makes it easier to determine boundaries," responded Towle. 
On the old maps, the zoning was based on distance from the road, which caused a lot of the split zones. They also were hand drawn so thicker lines obscured and sometimes covered parcels and made it difficult to determine the boundaries of split zones. 
Gazaille asked if the zoning changes would have any affect on property values. Towle said that was not his area of expertise but he thought that a residential property shifted to a business zone would probably be more valuable it were to sell.
What it wouldn't do is affect the tax rates because properties are taxed on their use, not the zone they're in. So a residential home in a business zone would still be taxed as residential and a business existing in a residential zone would still pay the commercial rate. 
The Planning Board is anticipating a public hearing on the zoning on Monday, March 16. After that, it would go to a special town meeting or the annual town meeting for approval. 
Mach said clarifying the zoning would be a good thing for the town.
"I do see businesses starting to sprout and people starting to come into town," said Mach. "There's people coming into town, they're sprinkling in from North Adams."
Mach and Gazaille were the only planners able to the attend the meeting, so without a quorum present the only application before the board — a site plan for a wholesale bakery — was postponed to the next meeting. 

Tags: Planning Board,   zoning,   

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