After pushback from neighbors, developer scales back plans for North Adams resort

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NORTH ADAMS — The developer of a proposed recreational resort has scaled back and redrafted his plans.

D. Foster Goodrich first introduced to the Planning Board in March his concept for a recreational resort replete with dozens of canvas tent campsites, tiny homes and other amenities near Mount Greylock.

After meeting fierce opposition from neighbors, Goodrich, a Williamstown native, introduced new plans Monday that reduce the resort to only 48 campsites, each featuring a canvas tent built on a platform.

"We've listened to a lot of feedback and tried to incorporate that into the plans that we've put in front of you ... hopefully, the neighbors and the public recognize that," Goodrich said. "We plan on being good neighbors."

Given that it had only received the revised plans moments before its meeting, the Planning Board on Monday delayed a vote on the proposal for a second time. It will take up the proposal again at its meeting in April.

The Planning Board first delayed action on the proposal in March, until it received additional information about the resort. And amid concerns from neighbors about the potential noise impact of the development, the board also opted to have an in-person tour of the property, which occurred Monday.

The original plans outlined by Goodrich would see the sprawling residential property transition into a recreational resort with various levels of accommodations for campers and guests — more than 100 sites in total — as well as a small outdoor supply retail and rental shop.

For lodging, the site would offer "glamping" in canvas tents, traditional campsites, tiny houses, or a small bed-and-breakfast-type experience in the property's main house.

Now, the plans call for only 48 sites, all of which would be dedicated to glamping, or glamorous camping. The site still would host events in an existing workshop near the entrance to the property, along with a new ancillary retail and check-in building. The property's main residence would be used as a small B&B with a single guest suite, an event space and kitchen.

A parking lot near the property's entrance would accommodate more than 200 cars and be open to the public. Guests would not drive into their campsites, each of which would have its own bathroom. Although the developer continues to explore a connection to the city sewer system, plans also have been developed for on-site waste management.

The impetus behind the new plans, Goodrich said, is to mitigate impact on the neighbors and "funnel the sound back into the backwoods.

"We were trying to figure this out so when we came back, we came back with a plan that allowed for a financially successful venture that was environmentally sound and really tried to listen to the neighbors and residents of Reservoir Road and Notch Road."

Goodrich said he hired an engineer to perform a sound study, which tested four locations around the property. All the things that are proposed at the site, occurring all at the same time, would not exceed 40 decibels, according to Goodrich. City ordinance limits the sound crossing property lines at 65 decibels.

Campsites, Goodrich said, would feature fire pits that would be fueled by natural gas or propane to reduce the impact of smoke on the neighbors.

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"I think you guys really paid attention to what a lot of people had to say at our last meeting, and I'm heartened by that," said Planning Board Member Brian Miksic.

Goodrich envisions the operation as leveraging the vast opportunities for fishing, hiking and other outdoors activities immediately surrounding the property, which is nestled just below the gate to the Mount Greylock State Reservation.

If the project moves forward, Goodrich and his family would live in a second home on the property.

The Planning Board's members toured the property in person Monday. Members of the public were not allowed to attend, citing an exemption in the Open Meeting Law that allows boards to "conduct an on-site inspection of a project or program; however, they may not deliberate at such gatherings," according to the attorney general's guidelines on the law.

Members of the media were allowed to accompany the board.

Nearby property owners turned out in force to the board's March meeting, airing a number of grievances with the proposal. Several residents of Notch Road and nearby Reservoir Road assure the board that, despite its rural setting, noise from the property echoes loudly throughout the area.

Monday's meeting was far less tense, though residents still sought more information.

Bruce Grinnell, a resident of nearby Pattison Road, requested that the board demand a traffic study, given that the property can accommodate so many guests.

Josh Field, a Reservoir Road resident adamantly opposed to the proposal at the March meeting, suggested that he and his family would move if the plans went through.

"[Despite] all the good-faith provisions you guys could make, I'll hear it, and I'll hear it loud," Field said of the proposal. "What do I do?"

Thomas Roberts, an abutter on Notch Road, expressed support for the project.

Goodrich has an option to purchase the property, which remains owned by Brian O'Neil, but will not exercise it until the city approves the plans. Under the terms of the agreement filed with the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, Goodrich has until July 31 to exercise the option.

Under city zoning regulations, a campground is permissible at the property, which is located in a rural zone.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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