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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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Juneteenth Celebrated as State, National Holiday

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Saturday is the first time that Juneteenth will be celebrated as state holiday but also as a national holiday. 
The date has long been celebrated in parts of the country, sometimes as Emancipation Day, the day in 1865 when Union Army Gen. Gordan Granger proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in Texas, completing the end of slavery in the areas of the United States after more than 300 years. Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Texas for nearly 40 years.
President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier but it would take the advance of the Union Army into the Confederacy to make freedom a reality. 
Former Gov. Deval Patrick had first signed a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth in 2007 and, last July, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill making Juneteenth a state holiday.
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