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Edmunds seeks election to Stockbridge Planning Board

By Sunday, May 13, 2018 Letters

To the Editor:

I am seeking a seat on the Stockbridge Planning Board.

Twenty years ago, Julie and I moved to Stockbridge for its small-town character, sense of community, rich past, open spaces, cultural offerings, and access to nature. Stockbridge is Stockbridge because generations of town leaders have preserved our natural and historic resources and placed the needs of community over those of commerce.

Stockbridge has always been under pressure from real estate developers who promise, “let us build XYZ and watch your taxes drop and jobs rise.” Those claims cannot be substantiated. Look at Lenox where, over the last decade, it’s had enormous investment in resorts, hotels, motels, condos, townhouses, and sub-divisions. Their tax base is growing but their tax rate – the amount residents pay on their property – keeps rising. Their tax rate has gone from 9 percent in 2010 to 12 percent today. The Stockbridge tax rate rose from 7 percent to 10 percent. And what about jobs? In March, the Lenox unemployment rate was 5.7 percent and only 4.8 percent in Stockbridge. While Lenox has undergone a huge building boom, Stockbridge has lower taxes and unemployment.

Our town (indeed, every Berkshire town) is facing an economic challenge. Tourism is an important seasonal contributor, but our future depends on expanding year-round businesses. Right now, one-third of all U.S. workers are in the so-called gig economy. Economists predict that by 2025 half of all employees will have non-traditional jobs. We need to begin planning for these changes. If elected, I will encourage more up-to-date use regulations in support of non-traditional employment opportunities like independent contracting, free-lancing, tele-commuting, self-employment, and at-home occupations to provide young people with more opportunities to live and work here.

Now retired, I have the time to take on this important responsibility. I also have the experience. I am in my second, five-year term serving on the Stockbridge Housing Authority. For three years I have served as the Chair, gaining a better understanding of town government. I pledge to rely on the Town’s Zoning By-Laws when considering any applicant and discussing any project. I believe the rule of law has never been more important.

I am pleased to have the endorsement of the Stockbridge Town Democratic Committee and am eager to have an opportunity to serve on the Planning Board. I would very much appreciate your support and vote on Tuesday, May 22nd.

Barney Edmonds