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Pittsfield ZBA Approves Bloom Brothers Parking Amendment
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
01:06AM / Friday, January 22, 2021
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Bloom Brothers says its success has created a parking crunch for workers and customers.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A relatively new cannabis dispensary's success is leaving it short-handed for parking.

On Wednesday, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special amendment to Bloom Brother's site plan to allow the use of additional on-site parking.

"We want to do everything we can to succeed," owner Nathan Girard said. "I've always said since day one that I want to be at or above compliance in every factor of the fashion of anything we do and this parking is nothing against that."

The dispensary located at the corner of Merrill Road and Larch Street was permitted to add three additional parallel parking spaces for employees and five compact car spaces.

In September, the Community Development Board reviewed an amendment application by Bloom Brothers with the primary concern being public safety related to a head-in parking space directly fronting Larch Street.

The applicant hired Guntlow and Associates Inc. to review the plan and found that head-in parking on Larch could result in potential safety concerns.

This is what led to the modification that stood before the ZBA with three parallel parking spaces fronting Larch and five compact car spaces on site. This revised layout is aimed to reduce potential conflicts of traffic while providing additional parking in a limited space.

In August 2018, Bloom Brothers received a permit to allow the construction of an approximately 2,900-square-foot retail recreational dispensary and in early 2020, was open for business.

The dispensary has been utilizing curbside pickup, which involves cars lining up on-site without parking in designated spaces, and was able to resume indoor sales on Nov. 13.

With the additional restrictions that have been placed on Bloom Brothers by state pandemic orders, it is operating at 25 percent capacity and found that it is taking customer transactions longer because of the added limitations. This means that people are parking in spaces longer.

Out of the facility's 14 parking spaces, two are designated handicapped accessible. Girard said there are many times out of the day where the lot is completely full and there are three or four cars lined up on Larch.

"It's creating a hazard," he said. "We've actually had people literally just sitting with blinkers on at Merrill Road, and then they eventually just pull into the gas station and wait."

Initially, Girard had an agreement with the Sunoco gas station across the street allowing for overflow customers to park there. Yet, when customers were taking more time in the dispensary, the gas station said they were no longer allowed to park there.

Girard said the three designated parking spaces for employees will not have much action, as the employees will park at the beginning of their shift and only move their car to have lunch or leave work.

As of right now, Bloom Brothers is the highest rated dispensary in the state of Massachusetts based on customer service, Girard said, and his brothers, his wife, and himself are there every day to make this possible.

Girard said that with permission, he would also like to make repairs to Larch Street in front of the dispensary and maintains snow removal of the area on his own.

He plans to have the new employee parking spaces blacktopped, marked with lines for clarity, and to have signs made that designate them as employee-only parking.

Currently, the staff is parking on the other side of Bloom Brother's additional building, which only boasts 12 spaces for 17 employees. Girard said they are double parking a lot of the time.

"We're doing north of 500 customers on a weekend," he said. "It is incredibly busy, we have shown no signs of slowing down, and in order to hire three more people without saying it in a weird way, I need parking, I literally don't have a place for them to park their vehicle."

The ZBA was satisfied with this parking amendment and felt that it lessened the potential risk of traffic issues.

"When we first saw this, I had some concerns mostly because of traffic issues with Larch Street but I think they have really been addressed," board member Thomas Goggins said. "I think this is a well thought out plan, I think it accomplishes a couple things, and I think it's a good use of the area and it's an appropriate alternation to the initial special permit."

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