Community Planning

Initiatives

Housing Regional Strategy

BRPC and 1Berkshire, with the support of a broad working group of housing practitioners from throughout Berkshire County, have launched A Housing Vision for the Berkshires, a regional strategy to lead more intentional efforts to address the current housing crisis.

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Land Use FAQ's

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 @ tmatuszko@berkshireplanning.org or (413) 442-1521 ext. 34.

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Marijuana Legalization

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.

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Shared Community Planner

The Shared Community Planner program allows each participating town to access services and assistance that fit their specific needs and budget. Participating towns have requested assistance with a wide range of land use and other community planning projects. All municipalities in Berkshire County are invited to contact BRPC to learn more about the Shared Planner program.

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Short-term Rentals

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.

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Sustainable Berkshire Regional Plan - Adopted

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.

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Projects

Adams Zoning Support for Housing and Housing Choice Designation

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is assisting the Town of Adams in preparing zoning amendments to make the town eligible for Housing Choice Designation. This work includes reviewing multifamily zoning provisions, mixed-use development provisions in the 40R district, and parking requirements for multifamily housing.

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Alford ADA Self-Assessment and Transition Plan

This project involves an assessment of publicly accessible town properties and buildings in the Town of Alford. Each property will be evaluated according to ADA best practices for providing accessible accommodations.

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Community Planning Shared Services

The Community Planning Grant Program will allow BRPC to assist in coordinating a planning effort for Municipal employees in Berkshire County.

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District Local Technical Assistance

The District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) program enables Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) staff to provide technical assistance to member municipalities. This assistance must focus on advancing municipal partnerships, planning for housing, planning for growth, supporting Community Compact, and supporting Housing Choice. It is intended to encourage and enable municipalities to work together to achieve and/or enhance cost-effective service delivery or to create and sustain ongoing collaboration and consultation on issues affecting the municipalities, such as land use and planning for new economic and housing growth. Projects and activities should result in a measurable change in the municipalities, whether in law, regulation, program management, or practice.

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District Local Technical Assistance Augmentation Program

The District Local Technical Assistance Augmentation program enables RPAs to utilize its expertise by helping its member municipalities or other local and regional public entities take advantage of federal, state, and other funding opportunities, including Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acct (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) (DLTA Augmentation).

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Enhanced Town Service Sharing - Shared Town Administrator

BRPC will assist the towns of Washington and Middlefield share a Town Administrator position. In addition, BRPC will assess the potential for other shared service agreements between similar small towns.

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Housing in Berkshire County

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will provide support for municipalities to advance housing options. This includes but is not limited to gathering data, researching regional housing models, supporting the development of bylaws, regulations, and the local use of best practices as well as expanding the availability of land use and housing planning assistance. Berkshire Housing Development Corporation will partner with BRPC to create a welcoming environment for well-planned quality housing and develop a network of housing development advocates.

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Lanesborough Master Plan

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will be assisting the Town of Lanesborough in creating its first Comprehensive Master Plan. This was made possible through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Town of Lanesborough, and BRPC's DLTA program.

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Lee - Future Use of Stockbridge Road Parcel

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will provide technical assistance to the Town of Lee to evaluate and plan for a town owned parcel along Stockbridge Road. This work would enable the town to comply with a recently awarded Best Practices Grant through the Commonwealths’ Community Compact Grant Program. The Town acquired 171 acres of land in 1993 along Stockbridge Road. Since that time, a portion of the land has been leased for agriculture but there has been no formal plan produced for the property. The Town would like to explore options for a more deliberate use of that land for such items as parks/outdoor recreation while continuing to use portions of the land for sustainable agriculture. BRPC will conduct an inventory and assessment of the land, involve residents and other community leaders and stakeholders to assess what recreational needs could be best met with this land, evaluate the land for the continued and sustained use of this property for natural resources and agriculture and provide recommendations to the town.

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Lee ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan

This project involves an assessment of publicly accessible town properties and buildings in the Town of Lee. Each property will be evaluated according to ADA best practices for providing accessible accommodations.

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Lee Master Plan and Open Space & Recreation Plan

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) will provide direct guidance and assist the Town of Lee to concurrently prepare a Master Plan and an Open Space & Recreation Plan.

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Monterey ADA Self-Assessment and Transition Plan

This project involves an assessment of publicly accessible town properties and buildings in the Town of Monterey. Each property will be evaluated according to ADA best practices for providing accessible accommodations.

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Monterey Open Space and Recreation Plan

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) will assist the Town of Monterey in preparing an Open Space and Recreation Plan.

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New Marlborough Open Space & Recreation Plan

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will assist the Town of New Marlborough in preparing an updated Open Space and Recreation Plan and guide it through the process of approval by the state.

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Pittsfield Open Space & Recreation Plan

This project will involve the creation of a public survey that will be prepared and analyzed on behalf of the City of Pittsfield. Future work will involve developing the entirety of the plan.

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Rest of River

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) is serving as the agent of the five Rest of River municipalities (Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Sheffield), and shall retain legal counsel approved by the municipalities. BRPC communicates the position of the municipalities to Counsel regarding filing of legal arguments during the EPA permit and appeals process, during the federal appeals and in negotiations. If it is deemed necessary by the municipalities to pursue litigation related to the river cleanup BRPC will communicate the position of the municipalities to Counsel for the purposes of pursuing the Appeals. BRPC is responsible for all coordination between Counsel and the municipalities; BRPC acts as the agent and representative of the municipalities, subject to advice and approval from the municipalities, in assisting Counsel in these matters; and BRPC acts as the municipalities’ fiscal agent.

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Sheffield Workforce and Affordable Housing Project

BRPC has been working closely with Sheffield as the town continues to focus on its housing goals. The next steps in that process include: creating a housing production stakeholder group that will act as a steering committee for implementing actions recommended by the forthcoming Housing Production Plan; creating educational and outreach materials and strategies to be presented at several public meetings; drafting zoning bylaw amendments as workshopped by the stakeholder group and community.

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Washington Zoning Recodification

The project involves a review of the Town of Washington's Zoning Bylaw, modernization, and coordination with Planning Board through approval at Town Meeting.

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Reports

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