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City Council OKs Starbucks on South Street
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:29PM / Thursday, December 01, 2022
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A former gas station will become a Starbucks location on Route 7 after the City Council signed off on revised plans Tuesday.

The new plans show the entrance and exit located in the center of the property's frontage and away from existing curb cuts.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A proposal for a Starbucks on Route 7 was given the green light after reworking its curb cut to address traffic concerns.

The City Council approved on Tuesday a special permit for the coffee shop and drive-through at 1030 South St. after being continued in October.  

Councilors were concerned about the planned entrance and exit being close to the curb cut for Guido's Fresh Marketplace and the Hilton Garden Inn and urged the applicant to "be a good neighbor" and reconfigure it after hearing from abutters.

Since then, the entrance was moved to the center of the property.

"What we've landed on here is a driveway in the center and we've also added a separate right turn lane and left turn lane," civil engineer Timothy Power explained.

The applicants did look at pushing the curb cut farther away from the concerned businesses but ran into constraints with an existing utility pole and fire hydrant. They also looked into sharing neighbor Jiffy Lube's exit but found that they did not enough legal rights to do so.

Power said the new plan puts the curb cut as far away from the abutting existing lanes as possible and that it provides enough space for traffic flow.

"I think the conflict that we're all really concerned about is someone taking a right, obviously, out of the grocery store and maybe someone taking a left from South Street into the store," he explained.

"I think this gives enough time to see that and react and stop if that's happening for someone leaving the grocery store so we're comfortable with this design, we hope the council sees the benefit of it, and that's where we've landed."

It was passed with three conditions imposed by the Community Development Board: requiring a tracking pad to be installed at the entrance of the project to deter soil migrating offsite during construction, all lighting to be downward cast, and the applicant being subject to all other federal, state, and local laws.

Guido's owner Matthew Masiero reiterated that he is for this project but still has concerns with the revised plan.  

"I would be remiss if I didn't bring this up for the safety of my staff, my customers, their customers," he said.

While Masiero appreciates the new design, he said it only gives 60 feet of distance between the curb cuts and that the speed of the road is a problem.

"It's posted at 45 miles per hour, people travel at 55 or even faster," he explained.

Power thinks that the road, which sees 20,000 to 30,00 trips per day, is the problem and not the proposed Starbucks.

Councilors supported adding a new business to the city but agreed that speeding in that corridor needs to be addressed. 

Because it is a state-owned road, the city does not have control over it but suggested increased patrols and advocacy for larger traffic-calming measures.

"It seems like the main concern is people not driving well," Councilor at Large Peter White said. "I drive down there occasionally and I see way too much speeding."

Ward 3 Councilor Kevin Sherman would not have supported the original proposal but feels this one is better.

He recognized that the whole drag can be a "free for all NASCAR pit stop."

"We've got work to do and it's not just that corridor," Sherman said. "And I would say 90 percent of my calls are about speeding or reckless driving throughout the city of Pittsfield."

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