North Adams artist collective cleared to operate at Holden Street site
NORTH ADAMS — The Common Folk artist collective is laying down roots in North Adams at a new Holden Street location.
The collective, which held a temporary space at 87 Main St. over the summer thanks to DownStreet Art, received Planning Board approval Monday to move into a more permanent location at 18 Holden St.
At its new location, Common Folk plans to facilitate and support all kinds of art-related activity, including music and fundraising events, workshops, and studio time for artists, according to representatives Jessica Sweeney and Joseph Aidonidis.
There were few sticking points for the Planning Poard, which approved the application unanimously with conditions. Some members were concerned about the potential noise impact concerts would have on the residential neighbors above and around the Common Folk space.
Chairman Michael Leary also questioned the board's authority to set operating hours. If Common Folk's programming constitutes entertainment under the city's ordinance, the license commission would set Common Folk's hours, not the Planning Board.
"Even if the license commission says it's not their purview, they should at least have the opportunity to determine that for themselves, because we can't," Leary said. "We can vote on it tonight with a referral to the license commission."
Building Inspector William Meranti suggested the collective's musical events would require an entertainment license.
The space will be open mostly on a volunteer basis, roughly from the hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The board agreed Monday to set a cap of 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on the weekends for music. The board also referred the issue to the license commission to determine if Common Folk's use falls under an entertainment license use, which would allow the License Commission to set the hours.
Leary initially suggested a 9 p.m. end time for musical performances on weeknights, possibly later on weekends, noting noise complaints from neighbors when previous tenants inhabited the space.
"If I'm paying what those people are paying for an apartment in that complex, I'd want to respect their privacy," Leary said.
Board member Brian Miksic suggested Common Folk approach its neighbors to work through potential issues and contain performances — electric or acoustic — to a "reasonable volume."
"I don't think you should be having full-on, dropdown punk rock shows in there, but I think that there's a balance that needs to go to both sides," Miksic said. "If you want a really quiet lifestyle, personally, you should go live out in the woods somewhere."
Sweeney said the group received excellent feedback at its space on Main Street during the summer.
"Common Folk in general has a really good reputation in the community and we are more than willing to work with the city and with the residents to make sure that everybody is happy, within reason," Sweeney said.
Aidonidis noted that the group holds larger events at outside venues, such as the two it held at the North Adams Elks Lodge in 2015.
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