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Pittsfield Council to Tackle Tax Rate, Zoning Amendment Proposals

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday will take up the fiscal 2024 tax classification and a proposed battery energy storage overlay district.

On the agenda are public hearings for both items, with the tax rate continuing from last month.

The administration has requested a commercial shift of 1.75 that would result in a residential rate of $18.45 per $1,000 of valuation and a commercial rate of $39.61 per $1,000. After several councilors expressed concern about raising taxes, it was tabled.

"You are driving people out of Pittsfield," Councilor at Large Karen Kalinowsky said at the late November meeting.

The residential rate for FY23 was $18.32 per $1,000 of valuation and the commercial, industrial, and personal property rate was $39.21. If the council adopts the FY24 shift, there would be a 13 cent, or 0.7 percent, increase for residential and a 40 cent, or one percent, increase for commercial, industrial, and personal property.

An average home valued at $267,914 would pay an estimated $4,943 in property taxes, representing a $397.82 increase from the previous year when the average home value was $248,100. This would amount to about $33 additional dollars a month.    

Commercial properties would see a less dramatic increase of about $145, as the assessed median value has only increased by $1,550 from FY23. This would result in a tax bill of $8,377.52 for the median commercial property.

The Community Development Board has brought forward an amendment to the Pittsfield Zoning Ordinance by adding a new section under Chapter 23 of the City Code, titled the "Battery Energy Storage System Overlay District.” 

This would allow Pittsfield to embrace greener energy sources while protecting the interests of residents.



The goal is to provide regulatory procedures for BESS and BESS facilities, outline the application process for site plan approval and special permit applications, specify which districts are comparable with the use, discuss site requirements for each district where it is permitted, and require that interested departments respond with comments and concerns within 14 days of the application.

In July, the board voted to become the petition for the zoning amendment, and in November, it recommended the proposed document that City Planner Jacinta Williams put together.

Williams has explained that BESS are "basically just an energy system that uses batteries to store and distribute energy in the form of electricity."

The proposal includes guidelines for residential-scale, small-scale, and commercial/industrial-scale BESS that fall within the boundaries of the overlay district.  In the proposed ordinance, the infrastructure is not allowed in various places such as flood hazard zones, parks and open spaces, historical or indigenous land, and conservation areas.

Regulations for details such as fencing, signage, lighting, and vegetation are also included.


 


Tags: fiscal 2024,   tax classification,   

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Pittsfield's Former Polish Club Eyed For $20 Million Condo Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a sizable grant from the state, the former Polish Community Club is eyed for a 40-unit housing development that adds four additional buildings to the property.

On Wednesday, the Affordable Housing Trust heard from developer Robert Shan about the project that could cost as much as $20 million.  Planners are vying for $10 million through the MassHousing CommonWealth Builder Program created to facilitate the construction of single-family homes and condominiums affordable to households with moderate incomes.

"We're looking not just to do a one-off but to have a presence in Pittsfield, a presence in Berkshire County, and look to bring forward attainable and affordable housing to many communities," he said.

"We see this as as as the first step and it's ready to go. We've put a tremendous amount of work into it and we're looking forward to being able to work with you."

While utilizing the former club, the plot at 55 Linden Street would have five buildings of one to three-bedroom condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  The final costs have not yet been determined but it is estimated that a unit for those of the 80 percent area median income will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and those in between 80 and 100 percent AMI will cost between $190,000 and $250,000.

The proposed condos are single-story units with an entrance from the street with the first-floor units having a private fenced backyard.  The existing building is staged for single-story condos and two-story townhouses.

Planners aim to bring the character of the 1872 structure into the new construction through colors and architectural elements.

"In developing housing for first-time buyers, we wanted a form that all had entries from grade, from outside without common corridors, without elevators to get that feeling of homeownership," Shan explained.

"While we can't afford to build and get these first-time families at the single-family homes, we wanted a hybrid product that really felt and operated like a home where a lot of the units have backyards, is its own community, etc. So in that, we have not maximized the density."

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