Lenox Manor Hotel and Events Center set for second ZBA hearing

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LENOX — The Mahida family's special permit application for its Lenox Manor 100-suite hotel and Events Center will have a second-round hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals this Wednesday.

The design team detailed its site plan and permit requests to the ZBA in a 45-minute presentation on April 20, focusing on the neighborhood-friendly architecture, landscaping and the central role of the Events Center, which could host up to 500 people for conferences, weddings and other large-scale gatherings.

There are 277 parking spaces proposed, four more than required by the zoning bylaws. A reduction of four spaces is under consideration.

"You've all done a great job, thank you very much," said ZBA member Robert Fuster, Sr.

If approved, Lenox Manor at 130 Pittsfield Road (Routes 7 & 20) would replace the deteriorating 120-room Magnuson Hotel, which would be demolished. The hotel was built in 1964 as a Holiday Inn, and the site has total occupancy permits for 459 people in its current meeting space and restaurant, which have been unused in recent years.

Earlier this month, the town's Planning Board gave the project a warm welcome, voting unanimously after only one hour of discussion to recommend it to the ZBA.

The only apparent hurdle remaining before final zoning board approval is an agreement to be worked out by the Mahida team with two neighbors of the nearby Twelve Oaks condo development who are closest to the hotel site.

Concerns to be addressed in proposed special conditions for the application deal with noise, lighting, construction hours and a reduction of two parking spaces visible to the neighbors. The condominium association is represented by Pittsfield attorney John Gobel.

"We're moving very, very quickly," said Gobel, "but there are a lot of issues we need to agree to specific terms on."

"Our goal is to come back with an essentially agreed-upon set of conditions to incorporate into the decision that would be to the advantage of everyone," said attorney William E. Martin, a team leader for the Mahida Hospitality Group. "I think we're well along the way on that and hopefully we can come to you with something that everybody's on the same page with."

"In terms of the impact on the neighborhood," he added, "we're very mindful of wanting to make sure that our use isn't more burdensome to our neighbors than the existing use. Certainly, we think a modern new hotel with a sound-controlled event center and a top-quality operation is likely to be a much better neighbor than a tired motel."

"We've worked very hard with Martin, we've met twice, walked the property and met with the site team," Gobel noted.

Martin cited Town Planner/Land Use Director Gwen Miller for helping to streamline the application process over the past several months. "We've found this to be very accommodating," he said.

The ZBA will resume its discussion at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Town Hall with a subsequent meeting, if necessary, on May 11. The timing of a vote hinges on an agreement with the Twelve Oaks condo group.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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