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With compromise secured, Lee Bank gets greenlight for new South Street location

Illustration of Lee Bank traffic flow

Preliminary site designs presented in a traffic study by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin show the flow of traffic through Reed Street proposed by Lee Bank.

PITTSFIELD — Lee Bank can build a new location on South Street following the City Council’s approval of a traffic change and drive-thru window on Tuesday night.

“This is a perfect example of when people get together and work together, good things happen,” at-large City Council Member Earl Persip III said. “Thank you so much for bringing your business to Pittsfield.”

The council voted unanimously to change the first 290 feet after South Street on Reed Street from one-way to two-way traffic, add a raised right-turn median at the intersection of the two streets and approve a special drive-thru window permit for Lee Bank.

John Bresnahan.jpg

John Bresnahan came to City Council in August asking the group to slow down a proposal from Lee Bank for a new location on South Street so that concerns from neighboring businesses could be heard. On Tuesday he wholeheartedly signed off on a compromise between the bank and neighbors.

With those approvals secured, the bank plans to build a 5,400 square foot two-story building on the corner of Reed Street and South Street that would house a new bank branch on the first floor and three market rate apartments on the second floor. The bank hopes to turn the long vacant lot on Reed Street into a vibrant and drivable bank with the use of a drive-thru window.

Bank representatives have told the council that drive-thru window only works with a partial traffic change on Reed Street from one-way to two-way traffic.

It’s on that point that South Street neighbors and business owners previously appealed to the council to hold off on approving the project, voicing concerns about how the traffic change would reduce residential parking and decrease the delivery space for neighboring businesses.

Business owners also said they were concerned the new bank would tempt impatient drivers through their right of way — or spacious alleyway — in order to skip traffic on South Street.

But on Tuesday night, several business owners reversed their appeals to the council, endorsing the project whole heartedly after Lee Bank President and CEO Chuck Leach said the bank would “make a payment towards a solution that I think will appease all parties.”

“I am more than pleased to be telling you that not only did we work through some of the items that seemed insurmountable earlier,” John Bresnahan, who co-owns the property adjacent to the proposed bank site. “Not only did we work through those but the designs that came about — not only were all the concerns that we have addressed appropriately but the give and take of negotiation happened.”

“You gave us an opportunity,” Bresnahan told the council.

When Bresnahan and Dick Laureyns, the owner of neighboring Aaron’s Plaza on South Street, came to the council in August they asked for “a seat at the table.” Laureyns and Bresnahan said the council’s decision to table the Lee Bank proposal until a compromise could be reached made a livable solution possible.

“We just wanted to get a seat at the table because we’re neighbors and we wanted to try and have everyone understand the impact on our situation,” Laureyns said. “We were pretty out-numbered up to that point but the long and short of it is you guys did your job.”

Design of proposed Lee Bank building

A draft of the Lee Bank building proposed at Reed and South streets in Pittsfield. 

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or

413- 496-6149.

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