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Pittsfield Board Grants Special Permit for Carr Hardware Window Art
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:39PM / Sunday, September 26, 2021
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The Community Development Board approved a special permit for the graphic window wraps covering Carr Hardware's windows.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board OK'd Carr Hardware's window graphics within the Downtown Creative District.

The panel approved a special permit last week that allows the modification of a pre-existing, non-confirming storefront display to accommodate the store's previously installed artwork.

This gives Carr's graphic window wraps a pass for transparency and coverage requirements in the Downtown Creative District that was ordained by the City Council in April.

The decals are over the building's front "windows" that previously allowed spectators to see into display cases rather than the sales floor. Carr Hardware paid fees to an art website for the images that include various vintage hardware supplies.

Because the graphics are opaque and cover the entirety of the windows, they were subject to a special permit to be in the Downtown Creative District, which requires window transparency of at least 50 percent and a restriction of no more than 60 percent window coverage.

The special permit was approved with one modification suggested by board member Libby Herland that makes the ruling applicable for the life of this display. She thinks that in the future when it is time to upgrade or replace the graphics the store can create an attractive facade while meeting the transparency requirement.

Owners Marshall and Bart Raser faced the Zoning Board of Appeals to appeal the city building inspector's decision after he flagged the window wraps, existing pole sign and projecting sign, and the total amount of signage for the business as a violation in May.

To their relief, the board deemed the window wraps as artwork and not in violation of signage allowances. The decision was made in a 3-2 vote with John Fitzgerald and Thomas Goggins opposing.

City Planner CJ Hoss requested that the business obtains the special permit after the ZBA's approval.

He told the board on Tuesday that it is important to work with businesses in the creative district, especially because the zoning is so new.

"We really want to be lenient and understand that when regulation comes in place, not everyone is necessarily aware of it," Hoss said. "And while we want to work with property owners to be compliant with the zoning in situations like this we will really want to find a way to make it work, and especially in the short term during this learning process."

Chair Sheila Irvin added that with anything, there has to be a certain degree of flexibility and understanding.  

In other news, the board re-appointed Irvin as chair, Floriana Fitzgerald as vice chair, and Gary Levante as clerk, and accepted the board's annual report to the City Council.

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