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Cathy Moses, top, displays some of her card creations during Monday's Planning Board meeting.

North Adams Glamping Project Moving Forward Under New Owner

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A glamping business that never got off the ground is now under the direction of a new operator.
 
The Planning Board on Monday approved a new special permit for Benjamin Crespi of Brooklyn, N.Y., to develop and operate an outdoor recreation resort at 976 Notch Road. 
 
The property owned by Brian O'Neil was transferred to 196 Marine LLC, a New York limited liability company, for $1.45 million on March 16.
 
"We intend to operate a project as outlined in the permit, and I think we're very excited about this opportunity," said Crespi. "We understand the permit and the conditions, intimately. I think my background and experience will lend itself to a successful project."
 
Crespi did not expand upon his background and no one asked.
 
He said the plan was to develop 48 sites as outlined in the original permit but that there may be some modifications of the placement of some buildings in the plans, for which he would come back before the board.
 
"I've also had numerous meetings with the neighbors. I understand the history intimately well about the project," he said. "I've had meetings with neighbors. I'm continuing to have meetings with neighbors, so that if I do come back with revisions in the site plan, again, not the unit count or anything, just minor moving of buildings, I think I can also come back with suggestions that would appease the neighborhood as well." 
 
The concept had first been broached by local residents Foster Goodrich and Keenan Chenail and approved in 2019 — but not without some difficulty. 
 
It took three public hearing sessions and a site visit before the board definitively voted 7-1, without discussion, to approve the complex of 48 camping sites, an event venue and the one-bedroom bed and breakfast. Dozens of neighbors attended the public hearing to protest the project.
 
No one spoke at Monday's Zoom meeting.
 
Crespi asked if the permit expiration date could be extended, based on the governor's pandemic state of emergency freezing issued permits for the past year.
 
Planner Brian Miksic, acting as chair, said the board would issue a new special permit with the change in ownership. "From your understanding, this is going to be identical, and so you are going to conform to all of the pieces that we've laid out in the previous special permit application correct?" he asked. "And if you're going to make any changes, you're going to come back in the future?"
 
Crespi said that was correct but Planner Kyle Hanlon wanted to know who would be on site since one of the former permit holders had planned to live on the property. Crespi said it would be him or the campground's general manager and it would operate much like a hotel.
 
"At the end of the day, we want this operation operating as smoothly as possible," he said. "I think there's two goals for this project: It's a project the town's proud of, and a project that behaves maturely. And from our perspective having management on site 24/7, it's a huge, a huge win. And it takes a lot of potential headaches away."
 
Hanlon was also concerned that the board did not have the original special permit in hand to ensure the new permit mirrored it. Crespi thought it would be a matter of the board reissuing the original permit and sending him the copy, which he would accept. 
 
In other business, the board:
 
Approved the development of four to eight artist studios at 1 Canal St. by Ivan and Sonia Stojakovic operating as Groundart LLC. Stojakovics said the studios were being built for fabrication (art, woof, etc.). Each studio in the former auto parts building would have separate entry and fire separation walls. 
 
• Approved a craft studio and retail space for Cathleen Moses at 24 Eagle St. Moses said she has been crafting for years and creates "pretty intensive" cards, scrapbooking pages and knitted products that she would like to sell. The space is small, about 100 square feet, so any classes would be small. She was unsure of her hours since she has not yet retired so the board suggested and approved her for 8 to 7 daily so she would not have to come back.
 
• Approved a candy store with an "old school atmosphere" long-planned for inside the Norad Mill. Owner David Moresi said the concept was further expanded to toys after the unfortunate closing of the Persnickety toy store. "When we're ready to open we really think this is going to impress," he said.
 
• Approved the site plan and special permit for Temescal Wellness' plan to transform the former Crane Stationary building in Hardman Industrial Park into a cannabis cultivation site.
 
• Approved signage for a car restoration business at 175 Hodges Cross Road and a change of building ownership for Spectrum Health Systems at 1274 Curran Highway.

Tags: glamping,   Planning Board,   

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Governor Pushing for Two-Month Sales Tax Holiday

BOSTON — The governor is proposing a two-month-long sales tax holiday this year as a way to support local economies and that would put an estimated $900 million back into residents' pockets. 
 
A sales tax holiday is already on the books for Aug. 14-16, a weekend of tax relief in August that's now a law in the state at this point. The Baker-Polito administration filed legislation on Wednesday to expand the sales tax holiday to the entire months of August and September.
 
"A two-month sales tax holiday will provide a boost to Massachusetts' taxpayers and Main Street economies as we continue to recover from COVID-19," said Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday in a statement. "Massachusetts' economic recovery is off to a good start, but it's crucial that the commonwealth takes action now to spur more economic activity in communities and support taxpayers. Thanks to stronger than expected tax revenues, the commonwealth has managed to grow the rainy day fund to a balance higher than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, and we can also afford to return these tax dollars to our residents and small businesses."
 
State tax revenues for fiscal 2021, he said, continues to "significantly exceed projections." Sales tax revenues to date are 14.9 percent above benchmark and revenues across the board means the state is poised to end the fiscal year with a significant surplus.
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