North Adams councilors reflect on local achievements, changes ahead
NORTH ADAMS — At its final meeting of its two-year term, the North Adams City Council briefly reflected on its legislative achievements and the changes ahead.
Councilor Lisa Blackmer, who has served as its president for the past two years, noted that the nine-member council worked through two difficult budget cycles in addition to passing a right to farm ordinance and zoning revisions aimed at spurring commercial development and protecting homeowners in the event of a catastrophe.
The final meeting of 2015 also marked the last for Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, who lost a bid for reelection in November by less than 100 votes. Councilor Jennifer Breen, who chose not to run for reelection and was not present on Tuesday, will also not return to the council in January. The seven other incumbents who ran for reelection all won back their seats; former councilors Robert Moulton Jr. and Ron Boucher were brought back onto the council.
Wilkinson, a real estate appraiser by trade, spearheaded the council's adjustments to zoning ordinances earlier this year that will allow the owner of a home on a nonconforming lot to rebuild, by right, in the event of a fire or other disaster. Noting that every other Berkshire County town with zoning regulations had a similar ordinance, without which buying a home can be a headache for prospective homeowners .
The second major change prompted by Wilkinson's interest in zoning allows for reuse of nonconforming commercial properties in residential zones that have not been used in over two years, with the approval of the zoning board of appeals. Under the previous regulations, those buildings would not longer have been able to be used commercially, including examples such as the former West End Market on State Road.
"I think it's important that we get these properties back on the commercial tax rolls, and we're going to generate some additional income to the city," Wilkinson told the council at the time.
At the close of the meeting on Tuesday, Wayne Wilkinson thanked the people who voted for him in the recent election as well the mayor, his fellow councilors, the city clerk's office, former councilor Al Marden, and his family.
"This has been a very rewarding experience, and now I can check that little box off of my bucket list and move onto the next one. Thanks very much," Wilksinson.
Councilor Nancy Bullett lauded Wilkinson for his work on the finance committee and his spearheading of revisions to city zoning ordinances.
"I admire you for that, and I thank you for your leadership on those issues," Bullett said.
During the public forum session of the council's recent meeting, Moulton acknowledged Wilkinson for the work accomplished during his two-year term.
"I'd just like to acknowledge Mr. Wilkinson, I think you've done a fine job on the council, I think you've brought forward some very important issues," Moulton said. "Just to put an ordinance through is a tough thing to do as you found out."
Breen, in a letter read aloud by Blackmer at the close of the meeting, also thanked her constituents.
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