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An overview of the latest proposal for a Cumberland Farms on Commercial Street (Route 8) in Adams.

Adams Begins Conversation About New Cumberland Farms Proposal

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The development team for a proposed Cumberland Farms on Commercial Street explained the project to the Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening.
 
The Framingham-based convenience store chain is still trying to redevelop a site that houses a garage and residential properties on Commercial Street (Route 8) between Prospect and Elm.
 
"The proposal is for a roughly 4,000-square-foot convenience store located directly in the center of the property," said Luke DiStefano of Albany, N.Y.,'s Bohler Engineering. "The facility itself will be served by 27 parking spaces, the majority of which will be located in the front and on the [south] side with a handful on the right side of the building, adjacent to Prospect Street.
 
"Cumberland Farms is proposing a 24-foot by 122-foot canopy situated above four multiproduct dispensers located in the front center portion of the property. The four multiproduct dispensers, because they can fuel cars on either side, would result in eight fueling positions at this location, and those dispensers would be serviced by two 20,000-gallon underground storage tanks located in the front left corner of the property."
 
Attorney Thomas Reidy of Amherst's Bacon Wilson emphasized the benefits of the development for the town.
 
"We look at it as a rehabilitation of a site that could use it. It will be a bigger store than across the street," Reidy said, referring to the Cumberland Farms just north at 46 Commercial St. "There will be more jobs and additional tax dollars. And don't forget about the goods and the services that are going to be provided to the inhabitants of the town and folks who are passing through on Route 8."
 
Recent zoning changes were approved by town meeting, Reidy said. But the developers still will have to go before the Conservation Commission, Planning Board and, possibly, the Zoning Board of Appeals to win approval.
 
"This meeting tonight is informal," said Donna Cesan, the town's special projects coordinator. "It's before the formal public hearing process that this project would need to go through before the town's Planning Board.
 
"Typically with a project of this type, the Planning Board would have a public hearing, and all the abutters within 300 feet would be notified."
 
DiStefano took the lead Thursday explaining the plan and fielding questions from the Board of Selectmen and members of the community. Most of those queries focused on lighting and traffic concerns.
 
Elizabeth Irwin, who lives on the corner of Elm Street and Temple, raised concerns about light pollution.
 
"The lighting that's designed is really designed to put lighting where we want it and need it, which is going to be in places like where we have parking, where we have driveways, where the customers would be putting fuel into their cars, and really nowhere else," DiStefano said. "Really, what we aim for in designing something like this is to have zero foot candles or almost no light at the property lines for both our abutting residences and the abutting rights of way.
 
"The design of light is intended to be used for the active portions of the property and not designed to spill over onto the abutting properties or the abutting rights of way. It's a really well thought-out design. All of the fixtures are full cutoff and down lights, so they're designed to put light where we need it and not anywhere else on the property."
 
After viewing a lighting schematic for the property, Irwin pointed out that it is difficult to assess the impact of a new development on paper and pressed the design team for a point of comparison, noting other convenience stores she knew that do create excessive lighting.
 
Charles Meek of First Hartford Realty Corp. pointed Irwin to the Cumberland Farms at the corner of North Road and Southampton Road in Westfield as the nearest approximation.
 
"That's probably the one that you would find closest that represents a corner location with lower lighting surroundings throughout the day and throughout the night," Meek said. "That's abutting a wooded area, a couple of other commercial buildings on either side. If you can go out and take a look, I think that would be the closest to you."
 
Irwin thanked him for the point of reference.
 
Cumberland Farms has a long history with the parcel in question, having first pitched a convenience store at the site of Al's Service Center in 2018.
 
That history works in the favor of planners this time around. Traffic engineer Jason Adams of Boston's McMahon Associates said the traffic study done during the earlier development is more reflective of typical trip numbers at the location than a study that might be done now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The Cumberland Farms proposal utilizes existing curb cuts for access from Prospect Street and Commercial Street. Selectman John Duval said he was worried about traffic from the convenience store and the existing streets all turning onto Route 8.
 
"If someone on Elm Street is taking a left there and someone is taking a left out of Prospect and someone is making a left out of Cumberland Farms, there is going to be some confusion there," Duval said.
 
Adams said his firm will be looking at the driveway location to make sure there are appropriate sight lines for all those crossings.
 
"Paying particular attention to that safety is of utmost concern to myself as a professional but also, obviously, to the customers of Cumberland Farms," Adams said.
 
Reidy said the next step will be for the developers to take the feedback from Thursday's work session and come back to the Planning Board for formal hearings. He said the hope is to get construction started this spring; DiStefano earlier estimated a four- to six-month time frame for a project this size.
 
Reidy encouraged any residents who did not attend Thursday's meeting or any attendees who thought of subsequent questions to pass them along via Cesan or Town Administrator Jay Green.
 
"We're not going anywhere," Reidy said. "We're receptive. We're humans, too. Just because we're looking to develop something doesn't mean we forget where we came from. Don't be afraid to reach out to us. That's why we're doing this workshop, to get a sense of what the town is looking for and hopefully balance that with what Cumberland Farms is looking for."

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BART Announces Upcoming Enrollment Deadline

ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) Charter Public School is currently accepting applications for students in grades 6 - 10 for the 2021-2022 school year.

The next enrollment deadline for the 2021-2022 school year for grades 6 - 10 is Thursday, March 11, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.

More information on the school’s enrollment and lottery process can be found at www.bartcharter.org. Interested families should contact the school at 413-743-7311 ext 732 or enrollment@bartcharter.org. Despite COVID-19 closures, teaching and learning continues at BART and enrollment is moving forward as usual. Please reach out to the Enrollment Team with any questions.

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