BRPC provides a range of services to its constituent communities and organizations. These services may be obtained in numerous ways. BRPC has a wide range of contracts which can provide services that benefit the entire region. BRPC is able to use local assessment revenue to provide limited technical assistance to local officials. BRPC works with local officials to identify and obtain grant funds which can then be used to conduct a larger planning project. BRPC is available to provide services to municipalities on a fee for service basis and numerous municipalities have contracts with BRPC for services.
The following is a list of some of the most requested services:
BRPC’s staff of planning professionals can provide direct planning assistance on a wide range of items, including:
- Assist municipalities with planning issues and regulatory affairs.
- Assist in the preparation of master plans, comprehensive development plans, community development strategies, open space and recreation plans, local economic development strategies, etc.
- Review development plans (subdivisions, industrial, large commercial or residential projects, municipal facilities, etc.)
- Draft proposed bylaws, performance standards, etc. Prepare and circulate model bylaws, design guidelines, procedures, checklists and other materials to assist members of local boards.
- Formulate and advocate positions based on the Regional Sustainability Plan and technical analysis which balances the natural and cultural resources of the Berkshires with a vital, sustainable economy.
- Prepare and update Comprehensive Regional Plans, such as the Regional Transportation Plan
- Prepare various studies, reports, and documents as required by Mass. General Laws, Chapter 40B 5. and other enabling federal and state laws.
- Research, analyze and disseminate information about innovative and progressive methods of land planning, zoning, conservation, and economic development which are consistent with regional policy.
- Prepare advisory comments for the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and local permitting boards/commissions to projects subject to Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review.
- Assist the Kampoosa Bog Advisory Committee protecting the Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
BRPC’s staff of planning professionals can provide specialized planning assistance on transportation items, including:
- Conduct pavement management assessments and planning for municipalities. This pavement management program starts with interviews of Town officials about past problems, future goals and the current issues affecting Town roads. A report is prepared which summarizes the Town’s needs and objectives, budget for road repairs, preferred road treatments and a five-year outline for road improvements.
- Conduct intersection analyses and safety studies to help communities deal with a problematic location.
- Conduct speed studies to properly and legally regulate speeds on locally owned roads and prepare required reports to submit to MassDOT to obtain the required approval.
- Conduct traffic counts under the annual regional traffic counting program.
BRPC’s staff is involved with numerous outreach and educational activities, including;
- Provide training and support for members of municipal Planning Boards, Boards of Appeals, Boards of Selectmen, Boards of Health, Conservation Commissions, etc.
- Prepare and periodically update Technical Reports and Manuals to support and inform local boards about relevant current and pending Laws, Regulations, Case Law, Municipal Bylaws, Master Plans, etc.
- Host, sponsor, coordinate, conduct and present training sessions, seminars, meetings, brown bag lunches, lectures, short courses, etc. for municipal board members about methods of improving land use planning, making land use decisions and other topics of interest to the member communities. An example of this includes ongoing Citizen Planner Collaborative Training programs, and the BRPC sponsored 5th Thursday Event, where planners, town officials and topic area experts come together to discuss current best practices and innovations in realm of land use planning.
- Prepare a newsletter highlighting significant regional issues, written in non-technical language for wide circulation to the populace of Berkshire County.
Mapping and Data
BRPC has developed and maintains a Geographic Information System (GIS) in-house and works in partnership with the MassGIS system. GIS database and maps include county-wide zoning and land use, wetlands, water supplies, transportation system, public/private open space areas, prime agricultural lands, etc. BRPC also collects and analyses socio-economic and demographic data for the region. BRPC provides GIS and Data Services including:
- Provides maps to municipal officials as requested.
- Provides maps to the public as requested on a fee basis.
- Produces customized GIS database queries with maps, charts, and graphs.
- Provides socio-economic and demographic data and analysis to organization as requested.
To find out more about the Mapping and Data services that BRPC provides, take a look at our brochure that describes the range of services we provide.
Some other services BRPC can provide include:
- Identify sources of potential grants. Prepare grant applications and perform coordination and administration of grants, including data compilation and processing, seeking endorsements, public participation programs, project management and other administrative processes required by the granting agency.
- Prepare feasibility studies (i.e. for industrial parks, public recreational facilities, parking lots, municipal or regional facilities, etc.).
Forum for Discussion
In addition to direct planning assistance, BRPC also serves as a forum for discussion. In this capacity BRPC:
- Initiates discussion and seeks to develop consensus on issues of regional significance.
- Identifies and encourages measures to mitigate potential adverse impacts of projects on the proposed locality and region
- Acts as a liaison between municipalities and other governmental agencies
Commissioners and citizens should look to the offices and staff of the BRPC as resources for information and technical assistance. In some cases, the staff can help you locate publications or data.
- Planner’s Advisory Service: The BRPC pays annual dues to maintain a membership in the Planner’s Advisory Service. This branch of the American Planning Association will research land use questions from member agencies around the country. They can provide examples from other communities, and will often provide copies of relevant studies, model bylaws, ordinances or other publications. Contact BRPC staff who will forward your request to the service.
- Library and BRPC Publications: The offices of the BRPC at 1 Fenn St. in Pittsfield hold numerous reports and publications. In the BRPC library, much information is available on specific developments, studies or proposals which have arisen within the County. There are also books, periodicals, and government publications.