Support the protection of motorsports act

To the editor:

I respectfully request that Congress pass the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act, H.R. 5434/S. 2602, in 2020. The bipartisan RPM Act protects the right to convert an automobile or motorcycle into a race car to be used exclusively on the racetrack.

Modifying a vehicle into a race car is an integral part of America’s automotive heritage. Many types of racing, including NASCAR, were founded on the premise that street vehicles, including motorcycles, can be converted into dedicated race vehicles. Racing events are an economic driver for many communities and a source of affordable family-friendly entertainment for millions, with participants that range from professionals to novices using converted race vehicles.

Congress never intended for the Clean Air Act to apply to motor vehicles modified for competition use only. However, the EPA maintains that CAA requires converted vehicles driven exclusively on the track to remain emissions-compliant.

The RPM Act clarifies that transforming motor vehicles into racecars used exclusively for competition does not violate the CAA. It is imperative that Congress passes the RPM Act to provide long-term certainty to racers and motorsports parts businesses.

Michael Golin, Cheshire

Check facts before speaking

To the editor:

In the Nov. 12 article in The Berkshire Eagle on the Lenox school committee’s consideration of returning to full time, proponent Oren Cass is quoted as saying “Virtually every authority agrees that ...”

This type of unsubstantiated claim is the bedrock of the disinformation and lies that are threatening our very way of life. If you want to quote the experts, feel free to do so. Mention their names and pedigree that makes them an “authority.” Cite exactly what they said and the context in which they did so.

If someone cannot support their side of a discussion with facts and reason and instead are dependent on anonymously quoting the “experts,” they should sit down and shut up.

Chuck Koscher, Lenox

A dismissive attitude towards affordable housing

To the editor:

Dave Pill’s letter on Nov. 14 castigates those who deep-sixed the Sawmill project’s rental units, fearing they would be occupied by “somehow inferior” citizens. And yet, leaving aside the resolution of ongoing questions of density, setbacks, separation between buildings, economic benefits and other matters, Lenox residents can be justly dismayed by the Windrose Project’s dismissive treatment of affordable housing.

In an exceptionally well-prepared petition dated November 2019, Windrose sought exemption from certain sections of the Lenox Zoning Bylaw. However, the petition made no mention of the need to waive the affordable housing obligation in Section 9.8.5 paragraph 2. Residents were, therefore, confident the Lenox Housing Trust would be receiving cash from the project equivalent to the cost of building two affordable units of comparable appearance with the planned residential development for Windrose Place. With Lenox residents having overwhelmingly approved this by-law requirement, expanding affordable housing by means of the trust has strong community backing.

Asked at the ZBA’s initial Windrose hearing last December why the petition had ignored affordable housing, the applicant surprisingly responded that no affordable housing obligation applied, but, if the ZBA disagreed, payment to the trust should be waived.

At its resumed hearing last January, the ZBA unanimously resolved that the payment obligation did in fact apply to the applicant. By a four-to-one majority, however, the ZBA then waived this obligation “in the public interest”. Although Section 9.8.17 of the bylaw requires the waiver to be consistent with the intent “to promote the general public welfare by ensuring new residential development generates affordable housing,” the hearing’s minutes make no reference to this.

Since there was no amended petition that addressed the affordable housing issue, Lenox residents were blindsided. If timely notice of such an amendment had been provided, concerned citizens would have attended the January hearing and favored the possible granting of the special permit but only if the applicant provided payment to the trust based on independent expert testimony.

Had merely one other ZBA member agreed, the waiver requirement of a two-thirds majority would not have been met and, assuming the ZBA does ultimately grant a special permit for this project, the trust would be receiving sorely needed funds.

Unless the applicant and ZBA are ready to reconsider their positions and proceed civic-mindedly along these lines, Lenox residents will be the losers. Better late than never.

Eric and Carol Haythorne, Lenox