NORTH ADAMS — Tom Ryan is quick to answer when asked what he thinks about a resort proposed near his home.
“I don’t like it,” he said, standing on a back porch he estimates is 500 feet from the project site. For more than 30 years, he and his wife, Becky Ryan, have lived in their Notch Road home.
Becky Ryan was not thrilled to learn a new developer wants the resort to operate year-round, rather than seasonally. She is worried about increased noise and traffic.
“The road is not that wide,” Tom Ryan said. “There are not sidewalks.”
But some in the neighborhood are happy about the project and revenue it would bring to the city, Becky Ryan acknowledges.
One neighbor The Eagle spoke with said he saw two sides to the issue of development on this high ground, southwest of downtown, and agreed with them both: giving North Adams an economic boost, while protecting a neighborhood.
Other neighbors said they want to get more information before making up their minds.
In 2019, a developer proposed a “glamping,” or glamorous camping, resort on Notch Road near Mount Greylock State Reservation. The Planning Board approved a special permit for a seasonal resort with at most 48 canvas tents built on platforms. After a neighbor sued over the permit, additional conditions were added.
A new developer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., 196 Marine LLC, has taken over the project, and the Planning Board last year approved a transfer of ownership on the special permit it previously approved, including its conditions, according to meeting minutes.
Now, 196 Marine LLC is asking the Planning Board to amend its permit so it can make changes to the project. The request will be taken up at the board’s July meeting. If permit amendments are approved, Crespi estimates the resort would open in two or two and a half years.
A notable change from the original project: The new developer is asking that the resort would be able to operate year-round, rather than the previously approved 180 days a year. The originally proposed canvas tent structures would instead be hard-sided cabins, according to the new proposal. Another change is shifting the focus to a “wellness focused sanctuary,” as the application puts it.
The new company decided that seasonal operation is not feasible, according to its manager, Ben Crespi. “Sewer infrastructure doesn’t care if it’s a glamping tent or a mansion, the fixed cost didn’t justify seasonal use,” he said.
Crespi, whose background is in hotel development, has been meeting with neighbors “on and off for the last year,” he said. Still, some have concerns.
One couple who lives nearby said they talked to Crespi and remain opposed to the project. While they expressed support for the city’s vitality, they don’t think it should come at the expense of their neighborhood. They called for a study of how the project would affect traffic, air quality and noise.
The street, which leads south toward Mount Greylock, is typically quiet, other than the occasional roar of a motorcycle. The couple, who declined to be named, say they worry that will change with a resort that would have 220 parking spots. They are also concerned that cabins would be larger than 1,000 square feet, saying that is more like small homes.
Some changes the new developer seeks would reverse conditions imposed by settlement of the legal complaint in 2020.
For example, revised conditions filed in Massachusetts Land Court show that the initial developer agreed the resort’s restaurant would apply for a beer and wine license only. The new development company notes in its application that it may pursue a beer, wine and liquor license. Revised conditions from the legal action also included a 200-foot vegetative buffer on the property’s northern and southern property boundaries. The new plan would shrink that buffer 50 feet.
Crespi said the company plans to use local businesses for products and services, like maintenance and guides for recreational activities. It also would offer discounts of up to 80 percent for local residents who want to participate in its wellness programs.
Year-round operation, he said, would create permanent, rather than seasonal, jobs. The company estimates it would create 60 to 80 full-time positions.
Previously, the resort’s hours were approved to be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The new developers are proposing to be open 24 hours a day, with quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.