PITTSFIELD, Mass .– The Community Development Council on Tuesday released two special permits and a site plan for the construction of the new Lee Bank location at the corner of Reed Street and South Street.
The bank‘s site plan was approved with a recommendation that only the 290 foot portion of Reed Street facing the site be converted to two-lane traffic. Originally, applicants were in favor of converting the entire street to two-way traffic for accessibility.
The structure, which will include a bank on the first floor and residential units on the second floor, has been granted a waiver for loading area requirements and an exception for a maximum setback of 25 feet from Reed Street.
A setback exception was approved on the condition that applicants submit a more detailed landscaping plan and have the bank sign affixed to the building rather than the lawn. In the newly created Downtown Creative District, there is a maximum setback of 15 feet for all structures.
The project team James Scalise from SK Design Group and Anthony Allegrone from Allegrone Construction represented Lee Bank at the meeting. Lee Bank Chairman Charles “Chuck” Leach was also in attendance.
The bank purchased the plot at the corner of Reed and South Streets to build a branch with drive-thru that would replace its North Street location as the new hub.
“Our proposal is to build a two-story building, that is to say one floor of about 5,400 square feet, the ground floor is a bank branch, there are two drive-thru counters that are on offer and while you look at my map I’m not crazy, I understand the driver is on the wrong side, but these are ATMs so it works, “Scalise explained. “The proposal here is to create a second floor, which is consistent with the new downtown district for residential use, which will include three residential apartments.”
In the design of the building, along with the three apartments upstairs, are a community hall that can be rented by individuals or businesses, and 26 off-street parking spaces with two accessible spaces.
Existing sidewalks will be widened and repaired along Reed Street to meet the needs of pedestrians.
The designers have also included a wealth of green space that aims to “soften” the street with landscaping and the planting of several trees.
To achieve the desired level of green space, the building’s setback margin must be maximized.
“It’s pretty rigid when it comes to industrial uses at the north end of the site, often, well, all the time, rather, depending on the use of the building, there are cars and trucks basically. parked against the street, ”Allegrone mentioned.
“There is really no consideration for the natural environment and green space at the moment, so we really want to maximize this setback, in order to influence foot traffic and the sense of community for this space, particularly in line with the bank’s mission as a bank a community bank. “
The design is said to have been created with the thought of bridging the gap between outdoor and indoor environments, including a second-story patio for the company’s use, and taking natural light into account in its manufacture.
The element of this proposal that has generated the most comments is the request to convert Reed Street to two-way traffic to allow customers to turn left and right off the property.
Lee Bank hired a traffic consultant to conduct a traffic impact study which concluded that the proposal would not have a significant effect on the performance of the surrounding road network.
On Monday evening, the Traffic Commission backed the conversion of Reed Street to two-way traffic after hearing from neighboring owners Dick Laurens and Jim Torra. (There was some confusion as to whether the vote was appropriate.)
The abuters have the impression of not having been correctly consulted in the proposal. They are concerned that the changes to Reed Street will affect their rights of way and prevent tenants from using the street for important deliveries.
The two also attended the community development meeting with a resident of Reed Street who was concerned that the transformation of the road to two-lane traffic would eliminate on-street parking for residents.
Board member Libby Herland understood the needs of the bank but was concerned about converting traffic across the street, also citing concerns about parking.
Member Matt Herzberg was concerned that the building’s setback and amount of green space might not be used for recreation and recreation as planned by the bank, saying creating an under-programmed lawn is not user-friendly for pedestrians. Herzberg voted against lifting the maximum recoil requirement.
“I totally understand your concerns about what might happen with this, but we just wouldn’t let this kind of dry up or break down in any way,” Leach told the panel.
“Also, just the research in terms of trees in an urban setting and what that does for a city in terms of reducing crime, there are just a number of different data points in terms of the quality of trees in the city. the urban environment and it’s plan is to spread trees all the way down Reed Street and get a head start on – we haven’t talked much about this backyard, it’s quite mature – but d ‘go there and potentially gain even more green spaces. “
This proposed traffic modification will then be submitted to City Council with recommendations from the Community Development Council and the Traffic Commission.