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Pittsfield Panel Recommends New Tyler Street Zoning
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
01:03AM / Monday, January 27, 2020
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The City Council will next take up a proposed zoning overlay that would accommodate new uses such as live/work spaces on Tyler Street.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board has recommended the Tyler Street zoning amendment back to City Council.
 
The board was again presented last Tuesday with the proposed overlay amendment that would modernize zoning in the area that stretches from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue.
 
"This is the same presentation that you saw last month there is nothing new," City Planner CJ Hoss said. "Nothing has changed."
 
The board acted as petitioner and last year recommended the overlay to City Council, which volleyed it back to the board.
 
The amendment would accommodate modern uses such as shared work spaces, live/work spaces, and other mixed uses. Also the southeast area would be rezoned from Commercial, Warehouse and Storage to General Business aligning with the current use that is mostly residential at the moment.
 
The amendment also sets up the framework for the development of three-family dwellings and aligns parking standards with the rest of the downtown, making it easier for businesses to move in.
 
The board heard from an attorney Michael MacDonald, representing the owners of Patriot Car Wash on Tyler Street who want to slightly extend the General Business zoning so it covers their entire property.  
 
Currently the business is a pre-existing nonconfomring use and this would continue with the new zoning. A portion of the property currently zoned Multifamily and Commercial/Warehouse would be rezoned Multifamily.
 
Multifamily does not allow car washes.
 
The board then heard from attorney Bill Martin, representing the owner of the land on which Patriot Car Wash is located. He requested that the board not make any last-minute changes to the zoning because his client just became aware of the proposed change.
 
He said although he saw the logic behind the General Business extension, his client wanted time to study the change to see if it will affect the lease agreement. 
 
The board tended to agree with Martin and did not want to alter plans with the two parties not in consensus. 
 
Hoss said there are a number of businesses on Tyler Street that are or now will be split zoned. He said the original drafts of the overlay tried to accommodate all of these businesses but it became too cumbersome.
 
"We decided it was too complicated and there were issues just working that out with the individual property owners," he said. "We reverted back to where the district lines stand now."
 
Hoss added that the amendment will go to City Council, then to Ordinance & Rules, and then back to council so there is still about a month left in the process, giving the two time to work out the changes.
 
The board members agreed and noted although they were in favor of eliminating split zones where possible, they were OK leaving the overlay as is.
 
"I don't have any specific comments I just want to say this project has been a long time coming and I think it will bring some great opportunities to Tyler Street," board member Gary Levante said. "I want to thank everybody involved."
 
Hoss said if the zoning amendment passes without changes, Patriot Car wash can still petition the City Council to make this zoning change so there is always a path forward.
 
In other business, the board voted to eliminate an order that Proprietor's Lodge hire a uniformed police officer to monitor parking for events with more than 150 attendees.
 
"I think that the owners have done a great job at addressing the concerns and it seems to be successful," board member Elizabeth Herland said. "I think there were a lot of growing pains. This was new, and I think you worked through a lot of the issues."
 
Neighbors of Proprietor's Lodge, the former Itam Lodge, vocalized their concerns about the now active establishment. Most notably neighbors complained about noise and patrons parking on along the neighborhood's narrow streets.
 
Mandates were attached to the lodge's special permit and the board modified their parking management plan for a probationary period, giving them time to work out the kinks in their new business.
 
Owner Eric Taylor said now that they have quite a few events "under their belt" they are more savvy to parking issues. He said it really is dependent on how many people drive individually to events. 
 
Herland still urged Taylor to consider hiring a uniformed officer for large events that could create a noisy chaotic parking lot.
 
Taylor also asked that the board remove a second order that forced Proprietor's Lodge to close the restaurant except to those with reservations if they had an event with more than 200 attendees. He wanted this number to return 250.
 
The board agreed to his terms and although hesitant, Herland said if an issue arises they will be called back.
 
"I am a little reluctant but on the other hand if they don't manage it well, then you are going to get complaints from the neighbors," she said. "So it is their best interest to manage it well and I don't know if we need to micromanage at that level."
 
The board will still monitor Proprietor's Lodge and reserve the right to alter the Parking Management Plan. 
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