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Edmunds argues for a post on the Stockbridge Planning Board

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By Wednesday, May 15, 2019 Letters 1

To the editor:

Ours is a divided country. Now is the time to vote and get involved in local government. That’s why I want to remain on the Stockbridge Planning Board.

My Republican opponent seeks my seat because, as a private citizen, I strongly opposed amending a bylaw to green-light the DeSisto project. That amendment, written by the developer’s out-of-town lawyer, would have allowed an over-sized “village” on a residentially zoned road. Town Counsel and the Planning Board rejected it. I would support a more sensible plan in keeping with the character of the neighborhood and with minimal impact on the environment. Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require.”

Next month I begin my 10th year as an elected Housing Authority Commissioner. It’s been a privilege to serve as Chairman as we work to keep Heaton Court one of the Commonwealth’s top housing choices. In July I was appointed to the Planning Board and I’ve seen our decisions contribute to the town’s quality of life. To deepen my understanding, I’ve attended training workshops at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. I’ve also learned how to evaluate applications and measure them against our Bylaws. We need to listen carefully, ask the right questions, and study the applicable Bylaw. Because our duty is to help shape the town’s future, I prefer to go slowly. A wrong choice can put the town on a slippery slope, with an unknown outcome.

When Tanglewood wanted to make modifications to their landscape I voted for the project as it met our bylaws. But I voted against building a driveway over Lilly Brook that far exceeded the 500-foot limit. Later, the Conservation Commission voted to reject that proposal. Looking ahead, we need to explore the impact of at-home businesses, tele-commuting, and short-term rentals. And we need to find more ways to preserve open space and shore up property values.

Let’s make decisions we can be proud of 50 years from now. We do not need to make Stockbridge great again. We just need to keep Stockbridge great.

I am pleased to have the endorsement of several Planning Board members and the Town of Stockbridge Democratic Committee and I respectfully ask for your vote on May 21st.

Barney Edmonds


One Comment   Add Comment

  1. John Hart says:

    So, Barney, what do you have to say about the following:

    To the Editor:

    I write because there is an issue in Stockbridge that needs to be addressed this year and not kicked down the road as many serious issues in Berkshire towns are.

    Our Stockbridge population is declining with deaths, and is not being supplemented by births or by young people moving into the area. The millennials who were born here moved away to find lucrative work and more “happening” places.

    How do we change this? Vermont has a very successful move-to- Vermont incentive grant program called “Remote Worker”. Google it.

    More importantly, we in Stockbridge have become part of the Commonwealth’s Community Preservation Act. So what does that mean?: Well, a few things.
    The dollars the Commonwealth grants annually to the participating towns can be used for a number of things: Open space and recreation investments. Historical preservation, AND, believe it or not, financial incentives to lure first time home owners to live here. Who would have known? Evidently no one because those funds (in the case of Stockbridge exceed $370,000.) have only been applied for by those non-profits and open space folks who pay attention. Also there is a contradiction here in Stockbridge. There is a PILOT program (committee) to negotiate a way of getting those non-profits who hold major acres of land in town, tax free, to pay something in lieu of taxes. So far they are not successful. But then, what do we do? We vote our non-profits CPA dollars! This makes little sense to me.

    So what can we do? My suggestion is, like Vermont, we have a marketing campaign to announce what we want… more young folks and families. We announce that we have these Community PRESERVATION funds available to them in that campaign and continue the follow through until it reaps results.

    There are those who will say they will never come because there are no jobs. Balderdash! If there are millennials working in metro Boston or New York and they know how to use a computer, email and the phone, they can work from anywhere. Here their kids can go to great schools, and they don’t need to contend with over populated, claustrophobic highways and commuter trains. Here they can have a real family quality of life.

    So? Anyone else up for making this happen?

    John H. Hart
    Stockbridge, MA

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