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The developer of the former community center on East Street is going through the permitting process to transform the building into nine residential units.

Adams ZBA OKs Community Center for Multifamily Housing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Plans to turn the former community center into housing has been passed by the Zoning Board of Appeals and will be next before the Planning Board this month. 
Robert Hinton, of Hinton's Berkshire Homes LLC, presented the plans to the ZBA at two meetings last month. 
The estimated $1 million project was seeking a special permit for multi-family housing in a residential district from the ZBA.
CMV Construction Services was awarded the property at 20 East St., the former Renfrew estate, for $25,000 a year ago in April and closed on the sale in December.  
Charlie LaBatt of Guntlow & Associates said the proposal for the century-old building is nine one- and two-bedroom residential units with those on the first floor universally accessible and with stairs and an elevator to the second floor. 
"We are proposing to improve, kind of, what you might call the landing area immediately adjacent to the building, to make sure that we can provide universal accessibility and better access," he told the ZBA on April 11. "Because the apartment [parking] lot's a little higher up in elevation, a little farther away than what you would want for accessible parking and access into the building."
The ZBA, however, was more concerned with access into the property and the right of way on the current shared driveway that dates to 1968.
"I don't know what the legally recorded right of way width is there, but the drive width varies to a little more than seemingly a single lane," LaBatt said. "But you know, historically it's been used a long time like that for certainly uses that are heavier in traffic than what this would have — dances or different things like that."
The property had been a youth center since sometime in the 1970s; prior that it had been housing for nuns (a twin building of the center was demolished years ago). 
"My biggest objection in this whole plan really is the driveway," said John Cowie of 18 East St. "If you go up to my house right now, you can see on the lawn where if you get two vehicles, they drive on my lawn, they hit the bushes. ...
"If you get two cars coming, someone's going to have to back up or go on my lawn."
Hinton and LaBatt noted that there is frontage along East Street for another driveway but that the topography along the steep street would be problematic and not done until Phase 2. 
"This is a test run for the property," said Hinton. "If this goes well, then we'll start looking at Phase 2. But Phase 2 won't be done with that single access."
ZBA member Nathaniel Karns said if there's a 20-foot right way, then the site plan should make it adequate to pass. He recommended the developers chase down the right of way and come back to the ZBA, which they did on April 25. 
At that time, the special permit was approved and, according to officials, Hinton is in talks with Cowie on how to address concerns about the driveway and possible realignment. 
Other neighbors on Summer Street worried about people cutting through their yards and the lack of privacy with units on the second floor. They were advised to bring their concerns to the site plan review by the Planning Board on May 15 at 7 p.m.

Tags: ZBA,   community center,   housing,   

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Veterans Make Memorial Day Trek to War Memorial

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Retired Navy Petty Officer Cindy Lacoste speaks at Sunday's Memorial Day observance.
ADAMS, Mass. — North County American Legion members made their way to the summit of Mount Greylock early on Sunday morning for their 89th pilgrimage to the state's War Memorial.
Speaker Cindy Lacoste, a retired petty officer with 22 years serving in the Navy and current member of the Department of Massachusetts Executive Committee of Women of the American Legion, spoke and recalled memories of fallen veterans.
"Memorial Day brings up so many memories to me, and I'm sure it does to you," she said. "But in 2003, I was deployed to the Middle East not knowing if I was going to make it back home. So the fact that I did, obviously, I'm forever grateful, and I want to make sure that I never forget the stories of those that didn't come back."
She recalled the story of a young soldier, Cindy Bowden, who was a freshman attending the University of Connecticut during the Gulf War.
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