Williamstown Select Board backs amendments for roadwork and lower water, sewer rates

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WILLIAMSTOWN — The Select Board has made its recommendations on the warrant for the upcoming Town Meeting, which is set for May 21.

The warrant includes budgetary provisions and spending requests. Among the items recommended was the new water rate, which would decrease by 15 cents, to $3.70 per 750 gallons. The sewer rate also would decrease, by 17 cents, to $2.55 per 750 gallons.

The overall budget would result in a 2.45 percent increase in the tax rate, or a 44-cent increase per $1,000 of assessed property value added to the current rate of $18.05.

Also recommended were allocations under the capital improvement program to complete several paving and infrastructure projects, including the resurfacing of Elm, Hall, Maple and Linden streets in the Cole Avenue neighborhood. There also would be money to resurface the Linear Park tennis court and add a pickleball court. Money also is proposed to resurface Luce Road.

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Other allocations recommended by the Select Board include $6,000 to the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, $77,000 to the Williamstown Youth Center, and $19,000 to the Sand Springs Recreational Center. Another appropriation, of $34,800, is recommended for Sand Springs to pay for a project to add a lift, allowing use of the second floor once it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. An additional $80,000 is earmarked for a project proposed by the Friends of Linear Park to help buy and install a new playground.

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Also recommended by the Select Board were two proposed changes to the town zoning bylaw.

The first makes it easier for homeowners to convert their house into a two-unit structure. The second allows owners of certain-size properties to construct an accessory dwelling unit on the property, as long as it is smaller than the primary residence. For either proposal to pass, two-thirds of the voters at Town Meeting would have to vote for them.

During the discussion, South Street resident Roger Lawrence noted his opposition to the accessory dwelling unit proposal because it does not require owner occupancy for the property owner to build an accessory unit, although he supported the effort to allow a one-family structure to convert into two units.

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Select Board member Jeffrey Thomas praised the Planning Board for coming up with the two proposals, which took about two years of research, dialogue and revision, he said.

"The goal is to make this community more accessible to people at the lower-middle-income range," Thomas said.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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