PITTSFIELD -- A zoning amendment has cleared the way for commercial redevelopment of an 83-year-old building and parcel on Dalton Avenue near the intersection with Hubbard Avenue.
The property includes a former Crane & Co. warehouse at 999 Dalton Ave., which dates to 1929 and is unoccupied.
James Scalise of SK Design Group, LLC, described for city councilors the intended project for the 5.83-acre parcel, and the council later unanimously approved extending a light industrial zoning district onto the front half of the property.
When operated as a warehouse, the building -- known as The Freight House -- was a pre-existing nonconforming use in a residential zone, and the neighborhood has over time grown up around it.
Scalise said the front 52 percent of the lot, along Dalton Avenue, would be in an extended light industrial zone, but the rear of the site would become an undeveloped buffer zone for residential properties.
Access to the site, he said, is near the traffic light at Hubbard Avenue, and potentially there would be an exit-only drive on the western edge of the property, allowing a right turn onto Dalton Avenue.
Construction plans call for replacing the roof and possibly adding a second story to the brick structure, Scalise said, and including passive solar features and photovoltaic solar panels on the roof.
He said there have been two inquiries for unspecified retail uses for the site. The preliminary site plan calls for up to 70 parking spaces and a possible drive-through area, which would require a special permit.
Scalise said he notified abutters by letter and held a meeting for the public in November. Concerns voiced by a few neighbors were over any increase in traffic and about the potential for stormwater runoff from the parcel.
Traffic at the already busy location would not increase significantly, he said, and runoff would drain off the parcel away from neighboring properties.
He added that he would be willing to work with neighbors before the Traffic Commission to help them seek solutions to current perceived problems with local traffic.
Council members expressed support for the plan to reuse an idle commercial structure and for the developer's consideration of the concerns of neighbors.
They also were clearly pleased to hear Scalise's estimate that the site, once redeveloped, would bring in "more than $100,000" in new tax revenue to the city, up from the current "less than $7,000" annually.
Ward 1 Councilor Christine A. Yon, in whose ward the property is located, and others praised the zoning proposal, the planned use, and the fact an existing building was going back on the tax rolls at a higher assessed value.
Reuse of existing structures is something the city must consider wherever possible, before new sites now zoned for other uses are considered, Yon said.
Scalise also said there would be a deed restriction that limits the type of business that could be located there, based on conversations with neighbors and others, along with a required review of any use by the city planning staff and Community Development Board.
To reach Jim Therrien:
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