These past months, those who have questioned the benefits of an over-sized Elm Court have been called various names by the ill-informed boosters for a massive new resort at the heart of our residential neighborhood. So who are these people who oppose expanding Elm Court into a 112-room resort, spa and restaurant? And why do they oppose it?
We have talked to over 155 petitioners asking for a scaled-back, smaller Elm Court. Among us you’ll find your friends, neighbors and relatives; teachers, doctors, small engine repairers, students, homemakers, inn-keepers, lawyers, shop-keepers, architects, carpenters, artists, cooks, ministers and elected leaders.
We’re a good cross-section of Stockbridge and Lenox. Some of us are retired, some still working, some unemployed. We’re young and old and in-between. We own modest, moderate and large homes; rent apartments; and live in subsidized housing.
One abutter, a retired schoolteacher, built her house fifty years ago and fears the constant in and out traffic hundreds of guests, employees and vendors would bring.
Another abutting family worries that they will no longer be able to walk their dog or that their children can no longer ride their bikes on their formerly quiet street.
Among us are many Berkshire youths who fear that the local economy is becoming way too lopsided, in favor of tourism. They have no interest in working at a large franchise-style resort like the one proposed for Elm Court. They ask why town officials aren’t looking for ways to support a more diverse, locally-owned and sustainable economy, rather than giving birth to enormous white elephants.
Among us are three descendants of 18th and 19th century town’s people who do not live near Elm Court yet are worried about the precedent of putting a commercial hotel/restaurant in a residential zone.
Among us are three prominent Berkshire county environmental leaders who want to preserve Elm Court and its landscape as is – not as out-of-town developers want it to become. We also include two Berkshire-based CEO’s responsible for hundreds of jobs but know that success is not just about income but achieving a higher quality of life. They worry that an immense resort will be a detriment to the character of their road.
Among us are the many homeowners who make up the Bishop Estate, who are worried about increased traffic, noise, light and the tumult from delivery trucks servicing regular guests and special events. Concerned signatories also live at Winden Hill, at White Pines, on Stone Hill Road, at Heaton Court.
Signatories now live (or have lived) on nine of the 11 designated Scenic Byways: Rattlesnake Mountain, Bean Hill, Averic, Mahkeenac, Butler, Hawthorne, Prospect Hill, Yale Hill and, of course, Old Stockbridge Road. On none of these roads will you find a four-story hotel, nor a sixty seat restaurant, nor a 15,500 square foot “spa”.
Among us are three Stockbridge Planning Board members, three former Selectmen, two members of the Community Preservation Committee, two members of the Stockbridge Cultural Council, one member of the Conservation Commission, three members of the Stockbridge Housing Authority, and one member of the Stockbridge Land Trust Board.
We’re a diverse, lively and independent-minded group who certainly don’t agree on everything, but we all urge the Stockbridge Board of Selectmen to vote on Monday September 8th to deny Front Yard, LLC a Special Permit. That denial will allow discussion of the many alternative solutions (see osrna.org) to this out-of-scale 121,683 square foot hotel/spa/restaurant.