Our Opinion: Miraval plan deserves a special permit
At some point, Lenox zoning officials will have to vote on a proposed Cranwell expansion, and after four public meetings the case against the project hasn't been made.
The Miraval Group wants to purchase the Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort for an estimated $20 million and invest $60 million to renovate the property. To do so, it needs a special permit from the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals. At a public hearing Monday, condominium owners expressed concerns about public access to the property and cost increases for various amenities.
Those issues, however, are between the owner and the two condominium associations, and aren't within the purview of the appeals board. Any town-required access to private property would not pass constitutional muster. (Eagle, September 28).
In arguing that Cranwell patrons would not spend time and money in Lenox, opponents seem to believe visitors would be behind security fences. Cranwell visitors are likely to do what many Berkshires visitors do, which is experience the Berkshires.
Miraval's Luxury Resort and Spa in Arizona has been praised by publications like U.S. News and Conde Nast Traveler, and its success lends credence to the company's claim that it will pay an estimated $600,000 more in taxes than are currently paid by Cranwell. Miraval has made changes to its plan to address the concerns of condo owners and has provided assurances that they will be able to access the property from Route 20. Miraval CEO and President Steven A. Rudnisky told residents he wants the resort to continue to be a part of the community.
The Zoning Board of Appeals doesn't have grounds to deny a special permit to a project that will benefit Lenox and the Berkshires. It should be issued in October.
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