Vol. I No. 07 11/1/2020
Town News 10/31/2020
From the Select Board (SB) Meeting 10/22/2020
Karen Williams, Town Collector-Treasurer, is retiring. An ad will be placed for a replacement, a committee to review applications will be appointed, and the option of extending the hours from 32/week to 40/week discussed.
Review of plans to add a garage and deck to a house on Main Street. Some neighbors approved and others objected. The SB expressed hope that owner and neighbors can come to an agreement. The matter was continued until October 29.
Concern was expressed that weekend trash collection on Main and Elm Streets was stopped precipitately. Although this is done every year, in 2020, warm weather and increased tourist trade, caused more trash. Shops on Main and Elm complained that bins overflowed creating an unsightly streetscape. It was agreed that the Town Manager would monitor the situation and make sure trash bins are not overflowing. However, the select board did not vote to rescind the earlier vote stopping the weekend trash pickup.
There is an open meeting law in Massachusetts which means all select board meetings must be open to the public. There is an exception and that is Executive session. Executive session is closed to the public, and generally concerns personnel matters. The intent is to protect the privacy rights of the employee. Only the employee can request the session be open. Leonard Tisdale, highway superintendent, requested it be open.
However out of respect for Tisdale's privacy rights, Stockbridge Updates will only report that there was a complaint and there was also support for Tisdale expressed by coworkers, friends and family. The matter was continued until October 29.
Editor's Note: Work stopped on the Larrywaug Bridge because, in an abundance of caution, Stockbridge self-reported possible errors in the grant application and implementation to the grantor (the Commonwealth). Stockbridge also reported its plans for correcting any errors. A temporary work stoppage is commonplace in the circumstances.
Notes from the Select Board Meeting 10/29/2020
1. The owners of 9 Main and abutters came to an agreement, and the Select Board approved the plans as amended. The amendments increased the plantings and decreased the size of the deck. The Select Board added that the deck could not be enclosed. In addition, the neighbors requested an access fee for workers to go onto their property, and that they be indemnified against personal injury and property damage.
2. Highway Superintendent Leonard Tisdale requested the Select Board go into Executive session. The public meeting was adjourned.
On Friday October 30, 2020 Leonard Tisdale resigned.
Quiet for now.
Notes from the Planning Board
by Bruce Blair
The Planning Board's agenda for the year is taking shape as Chairs Bill Vogt and Christine Rasmussen have set a goal for a revision of development zoning bylaws which govern building and land use in town by May of 2021.
Also on the agenda are updates or additions regarding short-term rentals, driveways, signs, downtown parking, downtown residential space, and Accessory Dwelling Units (added apartments or dwellings that share the same space with the primary residence).
Stockbridge residents have resisted housing subdivisions and cluster housing projects for many years, preferring individualized and incremental housing growth. Following the defeat of the large resort development at the site of the former DeSisto School on Rt 183, those favoring more intense business and housing development have developed support on the Planning Board and Finance Committee, believing that Stockbridge needs to change its approach to developers and building.
Residents have allotted considerable funds, outlined in the last issue of Updates, for consultation assistance to the Planning Board from outside professionals. This included a detailed Diagnostic Report from planning and land use expert Joel Russell, at a cost of $9,000. This was originally driven by the need to address issues around the Cottage Era Bylaw, which sought to protect historic housing but was a major barrier for the Desisto site developers.
Working closely with Planning Board members and town residents, Mr. Russell identified many of the items on the Board's current agenda. He also concluded: "The basic idea of the Cottage Bylaw is sound in principle. The historic "cottages" that the Bylaw seeks to protect are highly valued and are a distinctive part of the Stockbridge's history, culture, and physical attractiveness…The bylaw should not be a blank check that allows developers to do whatever they want to an historic estate, nor should it be so burdensome as to discourage a developer from trying to build a project that is good for the Town." Mr. Russell provides numerous examples and options for residents to consider.
Regarding Mr. Russell's report, Vice Chair Christine Rasmussen stated recently at a meeting: "People who have looked at what we produced, professional planners that I know, not from here, have said that they feel that the bylaw is going to be impossible to work with". Ms. Rasmussen has yet to respond to two separate requests regarding who she has spoken with and what their findings were as related to the Russell report.
The Russell report provides residents with readable and objective information about options for the future of housing development and preserving the character of the town. It can be read by any resident on the town website: Russell Report
The new part-time planner for the Planning Board, a position the town voted funds for last May, has begun working on some of the agenda items. His name is Philip Arnold. He has a 2016 Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning with a concentration in sustainable community design. He has three years of work experience in planning.
Editor's Note: Bruce attends all Planning Board meetings and is taking the opportunity to share his observations. Stockbridge Updates invites others, members of then PB or meeting attendees, to share their views. All views are enriching and welcome.
You can attend PB meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. via zoom. Go to Planningboard@townofstockbridge.org for directions on how to join the meeting.
Gorgeous, as always.