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The restaurant at the bottom of the Taconic Trail has been closed since 2006.

Dog Daycare Planned for Former Williamstown Restaurant Site

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The former Taconic Restaurant building on Cold Spring Road is on track to be used as a dog daycare and training facility.
Michelle Marrocco last week obtained a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to operate Pup Place at 1161 Cold Spring Road, at the junction of Routes 7 and 2.
"The Pup Place helps 'pup parents' of Northern Berkshire County build trusting relationships with their dogs through training and daycare services, so they can live their happiest lives together," Marrocco wrote in a letter accompanying her application to the board. "The Pup Place's model ensures that dogs get the exercise and stimulation they need without building super-athlete levels of endurance, fear or anxiety."
Marrocco talked to the ZBA about her plan for the business, which will have up to 10 staff on site at any time and provide boarding and training from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 to 5 on weekends.
She and trainer Tiffany Boyden told the board that the facility will have a capacity for up to 30 dogs, and will include a fenced-in area for a dog run.
Richard Sutter, who owns the A-Frame Bakery across Route 7 from the former restaurant, went to the podium to ask several questions during the board's public hearing, inquiring about how Marrocco's business, Berkshire Pup People, planned to deal with dog waste, whether Marrocco had conducted a traffic study and potential noise from the dog daycare.
"What do you plan to do with barking dogs?" Sutter asked. "We have the house across the street. I don't know how you can keep that from annoying us."
Marrocco said dogs will not be unattended while outside and Pup Place staff will clean up dog droppings as they are generated. She plans to hire a waste disposal service to remove animal waste from the site.
Marrocco said that with, at most, 30 cars arriving at the business in the morning for dropoff, she did not expect Pup Place to significantly add to the traffic count at the intersection of Cold Spring Road (U.S. Route 7) and the Taconic Trail (Route 2).
"Our practice is to divide dogs into smaller packs based on play style and temperament," Marrocco said, addressing the barking issue. "Thirty dogs at a time would be broken into three to five groups. Outside at any given time, there won't be more than 20 dogs, which means less opportunity to bark, and they'll be supervised.
"If play gets too rowdy or too loud, we'll step in. Our goal is to help dogs be well-adjusted. Our goal is to really limit the amount of parking that happens, period. Beyond that, we're across a highway from you. The noise from traffic will probably be worse than the noise from dogs."
Later, Boyden elaborated.
"Some amount of parking can be normal, but excessive barking is not normal dog play," she said. "It could happen, but as soon as it does happen, we intervene."
The pair have been operating their business remotely to date, going to clients' homes and collecting dogs or taking dropoffs for sessions at one of their homes. Marrocco told the board there have been no complaints about noise in the residential setting.
One of their clients, a Williamstown resident, came to the hearing to support their application.
"I have total confidence in them," the resident said. "I have watched the playgroups. I have maybe heard a bark, but, immediately, they were extremely responsible people. I have no question they would take care of any issue immediately. I'm very excited as a community member to have something in town that can help a lot of people."
The board voted 5-0 to approve a special permit for the Pup Place.
According to the business' website,, Berkshire Pup People has organized a Gofundme campaign to support the new dog daycare. As of Monday morning, it had received about $18,000 in donations toward a $30,000 goal.
Most of the ZBA's Thursday meeting was dedicated to an administrative appeal from Williams College regarding its planned indoor practice facility on Stetson Road.
The third item on the agenda was a request for a variance to install an in-ground pool at 1589 Green River Road.
Kira Wells explained that the property's topography and shape would make it a hardship to put the pool anywhere but within the 50-foot setback from the road required by the bylaw.
She said the planned 12-by-26 foot pool, which will be 4 feet, 6 inches deep, will be, at its nearest point, 28 eight feet from the road. The pool, she said, is critical to allowing her husband practice aquatherapy.
"It doesn't need to be a huge pool, but I'd love to put this pool in our back yard, and it would improve our quality of life," Wells said.
That information appeared to help sway the board, whose members initially expressed hesitancy to grant a variance — essentially official permission to violate the bylaw.
"This is necessary for the quality of life for this particular homeowner," ZBA Chair Keith Davis said. "I think that's a key piece of information. It's not just so the kids can go out and frolic."
Another factor working in Wells' favor was the context of the neighborhood, where much of the historic development predates zoning and violates the setbacks put in place when the zoning bylaw was enacted.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the variance.

Tags: ZBA,   dogs,   

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Williamstown Charter Proposal Sparks Concern over 'Separation of Powers'

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board and Planning Board this week clashed over a proposal that would add to the town charter a mechanism to ensure compliance with the foundation of town government.
The Select Board on Monday night finalized the warrant for the annual town meeting.
Most of the 42 articles on the agenda for the Thursday, May 23, meeting were recommended by the Select Board for passage with little or no comment. The primary exception was Article 32, one of five articles to result from deliberations of the Charter Review Committee.
The review committee spent about a year and a half reviewing the 68-year-old charter, which has not received a major revision over the last seven decades.
In consultation with consultants from the Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston and after reviewing best practices from municipalities around the commonwealth, the Charter Review Committee developed a number of recommendations to town meeting.
Most of the proposed revisions clarify existing charter language and bring the document in line with town practices that have evolved over the last half century (Article 30). Two of the articles resulting from the CRC are not actually charter changes at all but town bylaw proposals (Articles 33 and 34).
Two proposals would make substantive changes to the charter: adding a recall provision (Article 31) and creating a mechanism to enforce the charter (Article 32).
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