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Coal, Truck Business Sparks Noise Concerns
Tammy Daniels,
06:38PM / Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A proposal to put a coal stove and truck parts business at 456 Ashland St. drew concerns over noise and traffic from neighbors behind the property.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Florida couple's plan to open a coal stove and truck-parts business on Ashland Street ran into opposition at Monday's Planning Board meeting.

The board voted to continue the special permit application of Kennard and Janet Sherman for property located at 456 Ashland St. and to schedule a site visit after neighbors complained the operation would disrupt the neighborhood.

Ken Sherman said his business is selling bagged coal and coal stoves and performance parts for light diesel Ford trucks, some of which will be installed on the site. All materials and work would be done inside the building, he said, and the hours would be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., although the business is not expected to be open regularly that late. A waste-oil burner is going to be installed that would take care of any oil drained from vehicle work.

"Right now it's out of our house on Florida Mountain and it's just starting to grow bigger than what we can do up there," said Ken Sherman. "So we're looking to move to an area where we can start the business up. ...

"Three years ago, we had one truck of coal, now we've got 10 trucks of coal and we haven't advertised yet, we haven't been down here."

The Shermans plan to buy the property from Mark and Natham Braman if the permits are approved. Sherman said he planned on putting new windows in and cleaning up and painting the building, and cleaning up the old container wall and area with the expectation of having it either removed or restored.

But neighbors on nearby Corinth and Davenport street listed concerns about lighting, traffic and noice.

Alice Cande of Corinth Street said her outdoor space was a major consideration of her home and understood the train was a trade off when she moved there.

"I have the train a couple times a day and I have a nice, quiet, rural atmosphere," said Alice Cande of Corinth Street. "I'm now faced with a 7 to 8 o'clock business, which by his own estimate, is too big for his house, so it's going to be busy.

"We're talking about trucks, we're talking about coal, we're talking about floodlights on all night.  ... if this is a rural community I should have quiet enjoyment of my house."

Ann Marie Belmonte's gallery sign didn't get any love. (The editor thinks it's creepy cool).

Former Mayor John Barrett III, who also lives on Corinth Street, said he, too, was concerned about noise but also the site improvement and traffic safety because of the proximity of the trestle underpass. 

"That's an entrance coming into the city and there didn't seem to be any plan put forth for cleaning up the property," he said. "There's no plan before the board tonight and I'm very concerned about trucks going in and out ... It's a very dangerous corner.

"I know this is zoned for this particular area but at the same time, I'd ask the board to go down there and take a look at the site. ... it's just not right for this business from what I can see."

The board approved two applications submitted by Moresi & Associates for the operation of an early intervention program for children at 26 Union St. and the storage and production of theater supplies at 1470 Massachusetts Ave.

David Moresi said his company was representing the owners in both cases, although he is working toward the purchase of the Union Street property, better known as the Wall-Streeter shoe mill.

The long-vacant first floor is being renovated as space for United Cerebral Palsy programs. UCP Executive Director Christine Singer said the organization was seeking space to work with families with infants and toddlers during the day and for life and employment skills later in the evening with adults.

United Cerebral Palsy is expanding into the former Wall-Streeter Shoe Co. building.

Singer said the classes are small, highly supervised and would not go past 8 p.m. (Planner Donald Keagan abstained from dicussion and vote because he is a member of the UCP board.)

Also approved was a special permit for Galo Lopez, operating as Espana Inc., to open a Spanish restaurant at the former Isabella's at 896 State Road on condition that screening be installed around the trash container in the back. Lopez, who also owns Coyote Flaco in Williamstown, expected to open later in the summer.

Board members gave the OK for Ann Marie Belmonte to sell handmade items such as soap, jewelry and "coffin furniture" at 28 Eagle St. but a couple balked at her Warped Gallery's bizarre sign.

"I think it looks kind of ghoulish," said Vice Chairman Paul Hopkins, which made Belmonte laugh. She said she wasn't opposed to just putting Warped Gallery on the outside; the windows were large enough to let passers-by know what was inside.

Chairman Michael Leary, too, said he preferred something "a little plainer," but Planner Brian Miksic said, "I would not like you to get very plain with your signage; this is going to reflect what's inside your store ... but if you could find something that can balance [the taste of the board]?"

"Let me rephrase," said Leary. "More plain."

In other business:

An application of Dana Ritcher to open an automotive garage at 537 Ashland St. was denied without prejudice. The matter had been continued from last month pending Ritcher's written withdrawal. "Everyone here knows it is not going to go forward at the applicant's request; we just don't have the letter," said Meranti, but the letter had yet to arrive.

A request from Yaling Wang of the Sushi House at 37 Main St. to put tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant was continued because Wang was not present.

An application of BVS 5401 Investors LLC for property located at 1519-1525 South Church St./Curran Memorial Highway (the Super Walmart) to move a subdivision line was approved. The area has no frontage and is not a building lot.

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