The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning process is an on-going regional economic development effort focused on identifying regional economic goals and priorities, identifying strategies for and facilitating implementation, and measuring progress in the region. The result of this ongoing planning process is the development of a 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the region and accompanying annual progress reports, which are sent to the Economic Development Administration (EDA), in order to maintain the region’s eligibility for EDA investments.
Community and Economic Development
The Berkshire Brownfields Program was created in 2004 when the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) received its first grant from EPA to conduct environmental assessments at Brownfields sites. Since then, the Berkshire Brownfields Program has grown to include an Assessment Program for Phase I, II & III Environmental Site Assessments, a Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields Cleanups, and site specific Cleanup Projects.
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) assists Berkshire County municipalities in applying for and administering Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which are awarded on a competitive basis by MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). CDBG grants are funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through an annual allocation to the Commonwealth, for award by DHCD to municipalities all across the Commonwealth. In many cases, municipalities may have documented need for projects funded by the CDBG program, but not have the administrative capacity to apply and manage the grants.
The Shared Planner program is now in its second year, and allows each participating town to access services and assistance that fit their specific needs and budget. Many participating towns have requested assistance with creating a more supportive and welcoming environment for businesses and residents. This can range from increasing access to important information and forms online through the town’s website to promoting the town as a good place to live and work through a variety of marketing channels. At other times, grant applications and collaborations with neighboring towns will be the focus. All municipalities in Berkshire County are invited to contact BRPC to learn more about the Shared Planner program.
BRPC is working with the Economic Development Administration to apply for Economic Development District designation on behalf of Berkshire County. The primary purpose of an EDD is to implement the economic development activities and priorities set forth in the region’s CEDS. One of the few regions remaining in Massachusetts without this designation, Berkshire County stands to benefit from EDD status through increased access to regional economic development funds as well as public works assistance grants for individual municipalities.
Community Planningto top
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has completed working with a regional Consortium of cross-sector partners to develop a regional sustainability plan for the Berkshires. The three-year project developed a regional vision and supporting goals, policies and strategies for conservation and recreation, economy, local food and agriculture, climate and energy, housing and neighborhoods, historic preservation, infrastructure and services, and land use. Broad and diverse public outreach mechanisms were employed throughout the process to garner strong public input. The Plan was adopted by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on March 20, 2014.
On July 28, 2017 Governor Baker signed a compromise bill approved by lawmakers earlier that raises taxes on retail sales of marijuana, establishes stringent requirements for the packaging and labeling of marijuana products, and spells out procedures cities and towns must follow if they wish to ban or restrict pot shops from opening in their communities.
There are various issues local governments will confront with the adoption of this law and significant questions about exactly what should and can be done, and when, at the local level.
The realm of land use planning and land development is constantly changing. Some of these changes are effectuated upon the passage of a new state or federal law. Other times change is precipitated by the shifting needs or preferences of people in a community or across the country. BRPC attempts to keep apprised of the latest trends in land development and offer guidance to communities. In this initiative, documents will be added to offer basic guidance. The depth of research into these topics will vary, although an attempt was made to discuss the main points of each.
For more information on land use issues please contact Thomas Matuszko, Executive Director @ firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 442-1521 ext. 34.
On December 28, 2018, Governor Baker signed H.4841, An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-term Rentals, into law, as Ch. 337 of the Acts of 2018. The regulation, insurance, and taxation of short-term rentals has become a topic of increasing concern and urgency in Berkshire County. As a tourism destination, Berkshire County has been affected by the rise of short-term rentals. As such, regional municipalities may require assistance navigating the new legal realities of short-term rentals.
Data & Information Servicesto top
Berkshire Benchmarks is a collaborative effort to provide regional data and analysis. The Data Clearinghouse provides a one-stop-shop for data about the region and is intended to assist decision makers, service providers, and others who need reliable data to inform their work. The Regional Indicators defines what we want for our future and then tracks progress in achieving these goals
The US Census Bureau is preparing for the 2020 Census. BRPC will be organizing a Berkshire County Complete Count Committee to help get people motivated to particiate in the Census, which occurs in April 2020.
Environmental & Energy Planningto top
Two interstate natural gas pipelines were proposed in Berkshire County in winter, 2014. These are major construction projects which impact multiple communities, are highly controversial, and are permitted through a complex legal process at the Federal level through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. BRPC worked with other regions potentially affected by the pipeline across eastern New York, through western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire to northeast Massachusetts, and assisted our municipalities in participating in the process in a meaningful and useful manner. One project proposal has been withdrawn, however BPRC is participating in the review of the permitting process for another pipeline project.
Public Health Programto top
The mission of the Berkshire Public Health Alliance (BPHA) is to promote, preserve and enhance Berkshire County’s public health by meeting community needs, improving capabilities and providing equitable access to affordable public health services
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission acts as a fiduciary agent for emergency planning and response activities.
The purpose of the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (BOAPC) is to implement local policy, practice, systems, and/or environmental changes to prevent the misuse and abuse of opioids and to prevent and reduce unintentional deaths and non-fatal hospital events associated with opioid poisonings throughout the 32 municipalities in Berkshire County.
Transportation Planningto top
The Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMPO) is responsible for conducting the federally required metropolitan transportation-planning process that is often referred to as the 3C process: continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive. The MPO uses this process to develop a vision for the region and then decides how to allocate federal and some state transportation funds to programs and projects—roadway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian—which support the vision shared by all 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County.