Pittsfield board to Proprietor's Lodge: Request denied

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PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Licensing Board has joined other city agencies in calling for a halt to expansion at The Proprietor's Lodge, until the owner proves he can manage his existing operation.

The board voted 4-0 on Monday against outdoor entertainment at the restaurant/wedding venue and deadlocked at 2-2 in extending the liquor license to alfresco dining; the tie vote defeated the proposal. The board's fifth member, Dennis Powell, was absent.

"I'm not cool yet with the outside entertainment," said board member Richard Stockwell.

The dual rejection followed a 90-minute debate on whether owner Eric Taylor can expand the permitting for his Pontoosuc Lake venue, given the ongoing problems, especially with parking, at the former ITAM Lodge on Waubeek Road.

The Proprietor's Lodge, which opened last fall, had begun constructing a covered wedding platform on the lake. But based on complaints by neighbors, the Community Development Board two weeks ago deemed Taylor 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 Taylor can show that the property is back in compliance, with an emphasis on getting the parking situation under control.

The Pittsfield Fire Department also wants to see the parking woes resolved, as the added cars on the narrow road make it difficult for emergency vehicles to access the lodge.

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Taylor's attorney, Dennis Egan, told the Licensing Board that city planners went "a step too far" in halting the expansion work. He plans to address neighborhood complaints at the Community Development Board's June 4 meeting.

Homeowners living near the lodge said further commercial expansion will increase unreasonable amounts of noise, become a public safety issue and generally be a detriment to the area.

Resident Kirk Swiss said allowing the lodge to expand its amenities, when Taylor doesn't have a proven track record with special events, is the "lesser part of wisdom."

Knowing that the small parking lot on-site is not large enough to accommodate crowded events, Taylor shuttles guests from his other nearby business, The Lake House Guest Cottages of the Berkshires, located on the Lanesborough side of Pontoosuc Lake.

But some patrons avoid the 1.8-mile shuttle ride by parking illegally, which neighbors pointed out at a February hearing before city planners.

The Licensing Board urged Taylor and the residents to reach a compromise so the lodge can coexist with the neighborhood.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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