|Pittsfield Neighbors Oppose Newest Proprietor's Lodge Expansion|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:31AM / Wednesday, February 06, 2019
|The Community Development Board delayed a vote on the parking waiver. |
The blueprints show an expansion to the existing building.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Proprietor's Lodge is looking to add two new spaces to its existing building — a ceremony room and a breakout space.
But, the neighbors are saying the business at the former Itam Lodge is growing entirely too fast and is causing problems in the tight residential area.
The company sought a required parking waiver from the Community Development Board for the new addition but said the business had no intention of expanding its occupancy.
Attorney Dennis Egan said the building is approved with a capacity of 339, which requires 118 parking spaces. The new space would add another 71 people to its capacity but Egan said the company will not be seeking to do so but instead will be using the space to accommodate guests already attending weddings or other functions.
Neighbors, however, don't believe that will stay the case in the future. The residents in the area say the company hasn't lived up to its word of being a good neighbor.
"They have no care for the residents, they have no care for the neighborhood. This is fueled by greed," said Waubeek Road Resident Linda Pensivy.
A number of residents in the area went to the Community Development Board on Tuesday night in opposition to the project. They said parking is already a massive issue there and that adds to a number of complaints the residents have with operations.
William McGovern owns a lot at the corner of Hancock and Overlook and said traffic is the worst it has been in years. He said there are days when he can't get into his own parking lot. He told the board members not to believe that there won't be an increase in capacity in the future.
"The more he asks for, the more he gets, and the more he is going to want," McGovern said.
The neighbors said when they first met with owner Eric Taylor they were told that disruptions would be kept to a minimum. But they have a list of unaddressed disruptions. They said the plan didn't include a restaurant — something Egan had told the Licensing Board — but eventually, Taylor decided to open one. The hours were also later changed to expand to 1 a.m. against the neighbor's wishes.
"We've been fed nothing but a bunch of lies," Pensivy said.
From dumpsters overflowing, to litter in the area, to noise, to vehicles being parks on the street and restricting flow, the neighbors believe the operations are too big for the area.
Taylor said he is trying to address the problems. In the wake of complaints about parking, which was the topic of Tuesday's Community Development Board meeting, Taylor initiated a shuttle program this past weekend.
About a dozen residents of the area attended the meeting, many of them voicing opposition and outlining a number of concerns.
The lodge had a large event and had attendants keeping vehicles from parking in the streets and instead had guests park at The Lake House Guest Cottages, also owned by Taylor, and shuttled over.
Taylor said he purchased the former pitch and putt in Lanesborough and plans to use an acre to an acre and a half of that to build a parking lot. He is purchasing two shuttle buses. He added that he will be shuttling people by boat from the Lake House to the Proprietor's Lodge for a ceremony and back, thus reducing vehicle traffic even more. He added that he will be shutting the restaurant down when very large events are being held.
"We've had one event with the shuttle, which was this past weekend. It worked well," Taylor said.
Constitution Road resident Kathy Scace doesn't believe that will work. She said there was also a shuttle for the opening event put on by 1Berkshire and that the patrons there didn't respect the shuttle. She said people continued to park on the side streets and said one woman drove across her lawn to get around the shuttle.
"They will park anywhere. They don't care. I don't believe the shuttle is the answer," Scace said.
Taylor added that the parking issues aren't an every night occurrence. He said it is only at large events a couple times a month when parking becomes an issue. He added that he'd like to see more no-parking signs to help his parking staff be able to manage better.
"The no-parking signs there are very sparse and the ones that are there are unreadable. To enforce it, some signs would help," Taylor said.
The Community Development Board was torn on the project. It ultimately decided to delay a vote until members could see the parking plan in writing. Chairwoman Sheila Irvin said the board could permit the addition with conditions that if the plan does not work out, the board can revisit it and require a new tactic.
Taylor will bring the written plan to the meeting in two weeks.
"We need a parking management plan so we know there is an actual plan that is going to be implemented, that people will be able to get into their driveways and down the street," Irvin said.
Member Gary Levante questioned the city's parking requirements, saying parking has always been an issue at that location, and wondered if there was something the city should do to avoid such issues in the future. City Planner CJ Hoss, however, said the parking issue here is unique. He said the parking standards with most projects require more spots that are actually needed.