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Pittsfield ConCom Approves Plans For Former Itam
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:48AM / Friday, March 09, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The new owners of the former Italian American Lodge have revised their plans to handle environmental concerns about its redevelopment.
Eric Taylor purchased the Sons of Italy property for $1.1 million in January and is intent on transforming the aging building into a wedding destination. He received a building permit to renovate the facility and has been seeking approval to expand parking, build an addition, and install a patio area. That, however, took place in the wetlands buffer zone and needed Conservation Commission approval.
Neighbors raised concerns about the impacts from the removal of dozens of trees, an extension of the building, additional paving, new docks, and decking would have on the area. The Conservation Commission had concerns with water runoff and stormwater management. And the Berkshire Environmental Action Team raised environmental concerns.
On Thursday, engineer Jim Scalise of SK Design presented new plans that he hopes will mitigation those impacts. He said the new plan eliminates the need to cut trees in the buffer zone, the patio was relocated farther away from the waterfront, and a detailed stormwater management plan was presented.
He said there is no longer a dock in this project, but he expects another application to come in the future for that.
"It is a vast improvement from the original plans," said Commissioner Jonathan Lothrop. 
The plan does include blocking off a portion of Saddle Ball View, a small street connecting the property to the neighborhood. Those blocks will restrict vehicle access. But some residents felt that they will ultimately turn the street into a parking lot.
Jane Winn, of BEAT, said she is happy that the trees won't be removed. But, she still has concerns about a lack of erosion controls. 
"At the site visit, it was depressing to see that the applicant has had vehicle traffic going up and down the hill behind the building causing extensive erosion with no erosion barriers and no apparent attempt to limit the erosion being caused by the traffic," Winn said. 
"In our opinion, this does not bode well for their attention to protecting the site from erosion."
Winn called for the city to require an environmental monitor to keep an eye on the work, specifically when the stairs leading to the lake are removed.
Winn also feels that the additional porch, building extension, and additional parking creates too much impervious area.
"There is still a lot of impervious area going into the buffer zone," she said.
The Conservation Commission approved it with an order of conditions. The overall plan for the site if for it to become a venue tied in with the Lake House Guest Cottages, which had been built in Lanesborough in 2015. Taylor plans to shuttle guests from the banquet hall and venue to the cottages.
The Itam was built in 1973 and had been home to the Sons of Italy until it was put on the market last July.
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