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Planning Board Minutes, 04/28/2009
Town of Lenox
Planning Board
April 28, 2009
Land Use Meeting Room

Members present: Chair Joseph A. Kellogg, JK; Steve Sample, SS; Ken Fowler, KF and Gary Schiff, GS.  Absent with notification:  Kate McNulty-Vaughan.

Staff present:  Mary Albertson, Town Planner, MA.

The meeting was called to order at 6:01 pm.

Approval Not Required Plans:  JK recused himself from participating on the application for endorsement of an ANR plan for Joseph A. Kellogg and Barbara E. Kellogg for property located at 431 New Lenox Road.  SS served as Chairman for the discussion on this application.   JK represented himself regarding his ANR plan.  SS stated this is a straight-forward plan that meets the frontage requirements as well as the other zoning requirements.  GS made a motion to approve the ANR as presented and KF seconded the motion.  The Board voted to approve 3-0.   

JK returned as Chairman. Kim Flynn brought in a previously endorsed plan for Shaylor Hill Road prepared for Yokun Ridge Property Management.  It had been approved in 2006 but never recorded.  It needs to be re-signed so it can be recorded at the Registry of Deeds.  Plans must be filed within six months of endorsement or the plan must be re-signed.  SS made a motion to re-sign the Shaylor Hill Road plan as presented and KF seconded the motion.  The Board voted to approve 4-0.  

Minutes:  GS made a motion to approve the minutes of April 14, 2009 and SS seconded the motion.  The Board voted to approve 4-0.  

Annual Town Meeting:  Members reviewed the final report for the Yokun Ridge zone change petition.  JK will read the report at Town Meeting.  JK asked MA to check with the Town Manager to determine if the petitioner knows he will need to make the motion for this warrant article.  

Public Hearing: At 6:30 pm, a public hearing was opened on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Bylaw to remove in its entirety Section 6.7 – Educational and Religious Uses.  
JK read the legal notice. He said that last year the Attorney General approved the re-codified zoning bylaws with a note that the Town should review this section of the bylaw to determine whether it contained provisions which would raise concerns as to its constitutionality.    

Comments were taken from the audience.  Jim Biancolo, of 136 Main Street recommended that this matter receive additional study to determine if there should be regulations regarding places of assembly.  He distributed pictures of the religious assembly hall that abuts his property.  He said he believes the current 200 feet requirement is not reasonable; however, he questioned if the current setbacks in residential districts are enough protection.  He also raised the point that the Attorney General’s letter addresses not-for-profit schools.  He suggested there should be more regulations on schools that are for-profit.  He ended his comments by saying there should be more thought put into this amendment.

Philip Heller stated that he had represented Saint Ann’s Church during a resident’s appeal of the Town’s issuance of a building permit for a parish hall and offered an overview of the case that went to federal court regarding RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act of 2000).   He suggested there are three points to consider:  religious uses that are addressed by RLUIPA, not-for-profit educational uses and for-profit educational uses.  He stressed that Lenox has a long history of treating not-for-profit and for-profit educational uses the same.  

JK asked if there were additional comments.  There were no additional comments from the audience.  KF made a motion to close the public hearing and GS seconded the motion.  The Board voted to approve 4-0.  

SS stated he has concerns regarding places of assembly.  GS suggested he is not sure he supports the removal of Section 6.7 without first studying what type of regulations would be considered reasonable.  Discussion ensued regarding the concept of reasonable regulations.  SS and KF suggested this is more complicated then simply removing the regulations.  JK stated that 21 days must elapse from the day of the public hearing to the day of Town Meeting for Town Meeting to take action without a report from the Planning Board.  Since Town Meeting is next week, Town Meeting cannot act on this matter unless the Planning Board offers a report.  The consensus of the members was to table this matter for additional study.  The Planning Board will not make a report to Town Meeting.  JK will be prepared to offer a brief update to Town Meeting.

Lenox Gateway (Aspinwell) Residential Project:

Philip Heller informed the Board that he represents David and Matt Ward who are interested in purchasing the residential portion of the Lenox Gateway (Aspinwell) project.  The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) had previously approved 36 residential units as part of their Special Permit.  To date, 3 units have been built and none have been sold.  David Ward would like to change the format of the project and build 72 new work-force housing units.  He will provide 8 units that conform to the Inclusionary Bylaw and will be certified by the state to count toward the town’s 10% affordable housing requirement.  There will be 72 new units and 3 existing units for a total of 75 units.  It will be an ownership project and they plan to market the units for under $300,000.  The two bedroom units will each contain approximately 1,200 square feet.     

Jim Scalise, SK Design, gave a brief overview regarding site development including parking, traffic flow and utilities.  David Ward offered an overview of his projects in Berkshire County including Silver Maple Farm and the Pines at Bousquet.   

Members indicated they are excited that the developer is proposing to utilize our new Inclusionary Bylaw to develop work-force housing units.  Members are concerned about parking because the units will not have garages.  Members realize the need for greater density in order to create more affordable housing opportunities.  JK stressed that the Planning Board is only an advisory Board and that he would be open to conducting our review jointly with the ZBA.  Mr. Heller said he values the Planning Board’s input.  

SS made a motion to adjourn at 7:45 pm.  GS seconded the motion and the Board voted 5-0 to adjourn.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Albertson

Lenox Town Hall  6 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240   PH: (413) 637-5500