To the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals
RE: Elm Court Special Permit Hearing
February 18, 2015
Zoning Board Members:
As a Resident since 1965 and a Lenox downtown business person since 1980, I would like to share some points to hopefully be considered on the record in assisting the Zoning Board in deliberating the “Elm Court” Special Permit Application.
I had the good fortune of being a member of the Lenox Planning Board during the mid 1980s when we drafted, deliberated and presented the Great Estates Preservation By-Law for approval at a Town Meeting.
The intent of that By-Law was to encourage preservation and restoration of a group of historically significant properties through a very specific Special Permit process. The bylaw was intended to allowing commercial uses that would generate the necessary revenue needed for preservation and restoration of historic properties, without being detrimental to the lifestyle of Lenox, especially in residential zones -- in which of which all these properties were located.
In each and every application for use within the By-Law (Cranwell to Cranwell Resort, , Bellefontaine to Canyon Ranch and the Lenox School (Bible Speaks) to Shakespeare), there was a constant theme voiced by the opponents: too big, traffic issues, public & pedestrian safety, overburden public utilities/ services, being hugely detrimental to the character and values of the adjacent neighborhood, its streetscape or even the Town in general. Some stated that people would stop coming to Lenox. In all fairness, I was concerned myself with the Shakespeare use particularly when considering the daily in and out vehicular and pedestrian traffic that would likely be generated from the many performances.
It is also worthy of note that when the Wynden Hill condo project on Old Stockbridge Road (physically in Stockbridge like Elm Court is) was approved by Stockbridge and then also by Lenox, the Lenox Great Estate By-Law was generally the guide for both towns.
Every resident of Lenox prior to 1984/1985 (when the Great Estates By-Law was enacted) up to and including our newest residents, must agree that the those projects did not even remotely reach the predictions of doom and gloom voiced by opponents. In fact the Town record would show that each and every Great Estates Special Permit granted served as a ‘shot in the arm’ to increasing property values, generating needed improvements in roadways, sidewalks, water and sewer capacities and other utilities (mostly paid by the various developments). And people did come to Lenox as did more businesses and service opportunities.
In my 32 years on the Lenox Chamber of Commerce, several of those years as its President and a larger number of years as a very active Board member, I have seen and experienced the growth of the Lenox business community far beyond what it was prior to 1985. Unfortunately that growth has stagnated in the last 8 years or so and today we see a dozen or more empty storefronts and office spaces. The Lenox business community and even the Town of Lenox Water and Sewer departments absolutely need the added revenue streams that the Elm Court project and its customers would constantly generate year to year.
It is my understanding that the developer will fund an expansion/improvement to the Old Stockbridge sewer line and might also fund and build a much needed sidewalk for better pedestrian safety and convenience to those living in that area.
As a 50 year resident, business and commercial property owner and a solid “Lenoxite”, I can readily anticipate and appreciate that the Elm Court project will positively impact Lenox on several fronts as did the previous projects.
510 Walker St