Continued parking woes halt permitting for Proprietor's Lodge

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PITTSFIELD — Parking concerns have put on hold plans by the owner of a lakeside restaurant to complete a covered wedding platform at the facility on Pontoosuc Lake.

The Proprietor's Lodge, a restaurant and wedding venue, has begun constructing a covered wedding platform on the lake. But based on complaints by neighbors, the Community Development Board has deemed the owner to be in violation of his special permit agreement. Residents also presented photos of patrons parking along the residential street and in a nearby public parking lot.

In response, the board decided to halt all further permitting for the project until the owner, Eric Taylor, can show the property is back in compliance.

"The more recent complaint also included some visual evidence of the (venue's) shuttle in operation, but with patrons parked on Hancock Road and the city-owned parking lot that is part of Pontoosuc Park," City Planner CJ Hoss said at the board's May 6 meeting. "Just generally speaking, commercial operations would not be permitted to use a city-owned parking lot, especially that city-owned parking lot, without approval from the Parks Commission."

Parking has been an issue for the venue, which is located at the former ITAM Lodge on Waubeek Road, since Taylor opened the restaurant last fall.

Knowing that the small lot on site is not enough to accommodate crowded events, Taylor shuttles guests from his other nearby business, The Lake House Guest Cottages of the Berkshires in Lanesborough, on busy nights.

But some patrons avoid the 1.8-mile shuttle ride by parking illegally, which is bothersome to neighbors, many of whom spoke out at a February hearing of the board.

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In an attempt to remedy the parking issues, the board required that the venue have an attendant ensuring that guests aren't parking along the streets; shuttle buses are mandatory for events that have more than 150 people attending; and the restaurant must only accept patrons who have made a reservation when there are more than 200 people at an event, the board decided. Taylor must also widen parking spots on the Proprietor's Lodge property to ensure the required 118 spaces are usable.

He agreed with the conditions, but neighbors say that the venue isn't monitoring patrons closely enough.

Hoss has recommended that the board not approve any more permitting that falls under its jurisdiction, such as a final inspection on the ceremony space, until Taylor can show that the parking situation is under control.

Hoss also has written a follow-up letter to the city's Licensing Board, which will meet on Monday, recommending that they not give Taylor entertainment or liquor licenses for the outdoor space until then as well.

Because building permits have already been granted, Taylor has the right to finish construction of the structure, but without additional licensing, there couldn't be music or liquor served there.

A message left for Taylor was not returned Tuesday.

Hoss said he invited Taylor to the Community Development Board's June 4 meeting, where there will be further discussion about how he plans to come into compliance with the special permit agreement.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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