A discussion with Williamstown Planning Board candidates running in the May 10 Town Election. Read the candidates’ statements and bios here.
Wednesday, April 6, Williamstown Elementary School auditorium, 7-8:30 PM
Sponsored by The Greylock Independent. Moderator: Bill Densmore
Six people are vying for two seats on the Williamstown Planning Board in the May 10 town election. This is going to be a hotly contested election, and there are important issues and projects facing the Board and the town. Come hear a discussion among them about why they are running.
Planning Board. Two-year.1 seat — Anne Hogeland. Chris Kapiloff. Bruce MacDonald.
Planning Board. Five-year.1 seat — Sarah Gardner. Susan Puddester.
Planning Board candidates. Statements and bios
Anne W. Hogeland—Candidate for two-year seat on Planning Board
As a lawyer and an active member of the Williamstown community for 22 years, I’ve engaged in several efforts combining big-picture planning with fine-detail implementation, a background that I believe is well-suited to the Board. (See bio attached separately.)
Enhancing Community. A consistent theme of all my activities is working to enhance the fabric of our community, central to the Board’s mission. Initiating the Adventures in Learning (AIL) program in 1994, I helped to forge bonds between college and elementary students. I spent three years co-directing that continuing program. At WES and MGRHS (School Governance Council; Co-President PTO; Chair, Superintendent Search Committee), my involvement spanned many years. I organized two parent workdays with over 200 participants – for some people, their first opportunity to view the conditions at MGRHS first-hand.
Downtown Vitality/Supporting Agriculture. My leadership of the Williamstown Farmers Market (WFM) also enhances our community – by bringing a vibrant weekly agricultural/food/artisan market to Spring Street. I not only participate in overall planning, but also write an e-newsletter, book musicians, and more – even moving the traffic cones every Saturday. I’ve secured three Fund for Williamstown grants and led a successful membership drive, all providing needed support for our efforts. My dedication to WFM has consumed over 1000 hours of my time. WFM is closely aligned with the Town’s and Cultural District’s efforts to enhance downtown vitality, walkability, parking, and wayfinding, and I look forward to continuing these efforts on the Board.
Legal Background. Drafting and interpreting zoning bylaws involve technical and precise work. Bylaws are complex, and their application can hinge on their interplay with other laws. My legal training and experience will be an asset to the Board as it attempts to prepare well-crafted zoning bylaws.
Housing/Aging. I endorse the Economic Development Committee’s recommendations to achieve greater housing diversity, and am particularly interested in addressing needs of those who fall in the gap between subsidized housing and housing that is truly affordable. I look forward to drafting bylaws to allow a fuller range of options, especially close to Town. Let’s allow big houses to be subdivided, enabling an owner to age-in-place while effectively utilizing the remaining space and increasing our housing inventory. Housing challenges also intersect with issues of access to health care services and facilities. I look forward to reviewing the results of the ongoing research regarding Williamstown’s housing and age-friendly issues. A proactive Board can help guide the Town through these complex challenges ahead.
Master Planning. Dating back to 2002, our Master Plan is ripe for review and reconsideration. While many of its principles have stood the test of time, the overall plan deserves a fresh look. I’ll gladly participate in this effort, bringing my knowledge of Williamstown, work ethic, and research skills.
Every project should be evaluated on its merits and with an understanding of its implications. I trust we all want what is in the best interests of Williamstown, and I’m ready to get to work.
Anne W. Hogeland, Biography
I’ve lived in Williamstown for over 22 years—raising a family, practicing law, volunteering, and caring for elderly parents.
My first exposure to the Berkshires was as a student at Williams College, where I co-directed the Free University program and volunteered locally. Upon graduation in 1977, I moved to New York City, where I managed a state legislator’s local office, addressing tenant and benefit issues and working with community groups. I then returned to school, graduating from Harvard Law School in 1982 and clerking for a judge in the U.S. District Court in Boston. I practiced law for many years in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Pittsfield (Cain, Hibbard & Myers), primarily representing non-profit health care providers. I am also a potter.
I moved to Williamstown in 1994 from the Boston area with my husband Andy and three daughters. Later, my parents (then ages 81 and 87) moved here from rural Vermont. During this time, my volunteer efforts have included:
- Founder and Co-Director, Adventures in Learning program at Williamstown Elementary School—bringing college students into WES to teach after-school courses to children
- Member, WES School Governance Council
- Co-President, Mt. Greylock Regional High School PTO (organized 2 workdays—with over 200 parents engaged in indoor/outdoor projects)
- Chair, Mt. Greylock Regional High School Superintendent Search Committee (leading to appointment of Dr. William Travis)
- *Co-Chair, Steering Committee—Williamstown Farmers Market (secured grants for live music, promotion, picnic tables, WIC/Elder coupon matching program; led membership drive to enhance community support)
- *Manager, Williamstown Farmers Market
- *Member, Williamstown Committee of The Trustees of Reservations
- *Member (on behalf of Farmers Market) of Williamstown Cultural District Partnership
- * = current
I look forward to continuing a productive and rewarding engagement in this community and an opportunity to serve on the Planning Board.
Chris Kapiloff Candidate for two-year seat on Planning Board
I want to serve the Town of Williamstown by being elected to the Planning Board. Raised in South Williamstown, I was the fourth generation in my family to attend the Little Red School House and I graduated from Mt. Greylock RHS in 1996. After 4 years of college I moved back to Williamstown and taught history at Mt. Greylock. In 2002, my position was downsized as our school started the transition from a school population of over 800 to the current 550.
In 2004, I was elected to the Mt. Greylock Regional School Committee where I served a four-year term. I spent two years as the Vice-Chair and one year as the Chair. It was during that time that I really fell in love with our town. I was amazed at the amount of support that our school consistently garnered from the community. My wife and I decided that Williamstown was going to be our “family home.” Talia was born in 2006 followed by Ben and later we adopted our Simon from the D.R. Congo. All three currently attend WES.
Over the past 14 years I have been busy running our family business. In 2003, when I entered, there were 4 employees (3 were named “Kapiloff”) and our company rarely left Berkshire County. With 34 current full time employees our company mobilizes all over the country working for the federal government as well as building schools for various state entities. We have had the opportunity to remodel the Command and Control tower for Air Force One as well as supply the glass for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. We figured out how to grow from 2008 to 2012 when most others were shrinking or closing. Today we attract talent from all over the US and bring them here. More importantly, we bring money from all over the country to Berkshire County.
As I look to the future of Williamstown I see tremendous hope as well as some obstacles. Berkshire County is shrinking in population, job growth is slow, and wages are not rising. I believe that Williamstown needs to anticipate its future needs by preparing now. I want to be elected to the Planning Board so I can bring my business background and creativity to bear on our future. Too many of our children leave here never to return because there is more opportunity elsewhere. With some creativity and hard work our community can capitalize on our natural splendor, amazing schools, and cultural centers so we can stay beautiful while growing responsibly.
Christopher Kapiloff is a 38-year-old townie. After graduating from Mt. Greylock RHS in 1996 he went to college in Pennsylvania. During college he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve and was promoted to Sergeant by the age of 21. Upon graduation from Messiah College in 2000, he returned to teach history at Mt. Greylock and successfully ran for a four-year term on the Mt. Greylock Regional School Committee in 2004. In 2003, he joined his family construction company and transformed it from a small, family-owned business to a specialty security company that works all over the country. Chris was selected to join the Corporator Board at Mountain One in 2012. The New York Times and Forbes Magazine have written articles on two other businesses that Chris has founded (School Guard Glass and CereusData). Chris lives with his wife and three children who would describe him as their human jungle gym, ski instructor and short-order breakfast chef.
Bruce MacDonald Candidate for two-year seat on Planning Board
Hancock Rd., Williamstown
I am running for the two-year seat on the Williamstown Planning Board. There are important issues and potentially large projects facing both the Board and the town. The current zoning bylaws were for the most part put into effect in the 1950’s and 60’s. During that time single use zoning was primarily used. The result of single use zoning has created urban blight and suburban sprawl and complete dependence on the automobile. The way this affected Williamstown is by virtually prohibiting businesses or service providers from locating to our town. I am running to affect change. My goal is to create form-based zoning for Williamstown.
Form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictably built results and a high-quality public realm using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A form-based code is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into town law.
Form-based code would maintain the current appearance of existing structures and require design review for new development. Instituting these zoning changes will not immediately transform Williamstown but will provide business owners and service providers a ‘By Right” opportunity to locate or relocate their businesses to one of the newly formed Form-based areas. Form-based code will preserve the “look” of Williamstown as well as enhance it in the future.
Currently there is a proposal to amend the zoning laws at Waubeeka Golf Course. I am opposed to the petition as proposed. The proposal allows for the development of too great an area which could potentially be a blot on the landscape and jeopardize the continued existence of the golf course. I would support rezoning of a smaller portion of Waubeeka to allow the construction of an Inn, including amenities and up to 65 guest rooms.
I believe I bring new perspective and fresh ideas and can be a force for change on the Williamstown Planning Board.
Born 1949, Boston MA
1971 Graduate of the College of the Holy Cross with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Urban Planning.
Beginning in 1971 I taught for five years in the Attleboro Public Schools before becoming CEO and sole stockholder of MacDonald Moving Services/ United Van Lines in 1976, a position I continue to hold today.
In 1995 I began to pursue my interest in real estate development and construction with projects in Massachusetts and the French West Indies. This includes the complete renovation and reconstruction of 530 Main Street Williamstown, The Nehemiah Smedley House.
I am an an avid conservationist and was a member of the Bourne Conservation Commission for 13 years including two years as Chairman.
A recent resident of Williamstown I am running for the two-year Planning Board position, hoping to use my experience and knowledge to promote business and increase services for town residents.
Sarah Gardner Candidate for five-year seat on Planning Board
[Sarah was not able to be present at the forum, since she had to attend an EPA conference in Baltimore (on a subject relevant to her candidacy for the Planning Board: “Local Solutions for Climate Change Preparedness.”) She submitted a video to the forum (https://youtu.be/4QwZq4pT4cc). ]
I am currently serving on the Planning Board and I’m running for the 5-year seat because I care deeply about the future of Williamstown and I’m dedicated to public service. So many people contribute their time and effort to make this town the friendly, beautiful, interesting and caring place that it is. On the Planning Board, I will work to foster economic development while maintaining my commitment to preserving the natural resources, open space and farms that surround our valley. I will also continue my work to promote affordable housing and socioeconomic diversity. The principles of Smart Growth* guide my approach to planning: develop the town, preserve nature. Good planning enhances towns while protecting natural areas.
I bring to the Planning Board a technical knowledge of zoning and land-use laws, an appreciation of differing perspectives, and a vision for the town’s future. I also bring a passion for town planning: there’s nothing I’d rather do than research innovative approaches to town planning that have been successful in other towns. Well-planned towns attract new residents and tourists and have higher property values than unplanned towns.
I believe good planning involves the public. The more perspectives we hear, the better the plans will be. I listen to all sides of an issue and I try to find solutions that will benefit Williamstown the most in the long-term. There are rarely easy solutions: they take research, discussion, thought and hard work. I am willing to put in that effort. Please vote to elect me to the Planning Board. I look forward to working with you to keep Williamstown a safe and progressive place to live, work and visit.
I will work to…
-Foster a more vibrant business district and support business development
-Ensure Williamstown remains a safe, walkable and bike friendly community
-Provide affordable housing for all
-Restore our farm economy
-Preserve open space and natural resources
-Encourage renewable energy and green jobs
Local, County and State Service:
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Williamstown Master Plan Committee, Community Preservation Committee, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Agricultural Commission, Farmers Market Committee, COOL Committee, Massachusetts Environmental Trust.
Has served as board member on the Berkshire Bike Path Committee, Berkshire Grown, Williamstown Farmers Market Committee and the Hoosic River Watershed Association.
New Jersey Office of State Planning, New York City Recycling Program, City University of New York: Samuel Center for Urban Policy, Princeton University, Environmental Advocates
Planning in Williamstown:
Sarah has helped initiate many planning projects and proposals in town:
Rezoning and redeveloping the Cable Mill for apartments and affordable housing
Rezoning the Photech site, “Redevelopment Plan for the Delftree Mill,” including plans for commercial development and affordable housing
Developing the Williamstown-North Adams bike path
Revitalizing Williamstown’s Superblock”, a plan to develop mixed-use commercial/affordable housing in townhouses on the Town Garage site
“Feasibility Study of the Wylde Property”, an assessment of affordable housing potential on the Wylde property, off of North Hoosic Road
Advocating to enact the Community Preservation Act
Working to pass the Right to Farm bylaw
Leader of the Keep Berkshire Farming food system study.
Sarah has lived in Williamstown for 17 years and has raised 3 children here. She teaches environmental planning at Williams College and is the associate director of the Center for Environmental Studies. She recently produced the documentary film “Forgotten Farms,” which explores class divides in our farm and food communities and will premiere at the Berkshire International Film Festival in June. She is a graduate of Smith College, and holds a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the City University of New York.
Susan Puddester Candidate for five-year seat on Planning Board
Williamstown is now my home and I care about what happens here, to its residents and its character. It has been well documented that in Williamstown and the Berkshires we are losing population and that the population has been getting older. This trend is not sustainable. If we are to preserve the town we love, we need to find a way to reverse that trend. We need to encourage young families to move and raise their families here. To do this we need to find innovative ways to provide moderately priced housing and job opportunities for young people and I believe the Planning Board can, and should, play a role in helping make that possible.
Over a year ago, the Board of Selectmen recommended the town establish an Economic Development Committee to look at Williamstown and make recommendations for its future. After many meetings, with speakers with different areas of expertise, a list of recommendations was made. Those recommendations are a positive and forward-looking roadmap for our town. The Board of Selectmen endorsed those recommendations. I believe that the Planning Board as well as other town committees should work to support these recommendations.
Finally, we have great schools here in Williamstown—the best in the county. To maintain that quality, we will need to continue to invest in those schools. It has been pointed out in Select Board meetings that there has been no growth in the town’s tax base in a decade. If we do not increase the tax base the only other option to provide the resources our schools need, is to increase the tax rate, which will be particularly difficult for our seniors with fixed incomes. Thoughtful and modest growth in the tax base will allow us to invest in our schools, without burdening taxpayers. The Planning Board should take a leadership role in making that happen. I would like to be a part of that process and continue my work in the community.
I grew up in a small town in Vermont about the same size as Williamstown, but without the cultural and educational influences of the Clark and the College. I graduated from the University of Vermont where I majored in Social Work. There I met my husband Fred. We lived for over thirty years in Annapolis, Maryland, where we raised our two children.
In my career I worked with seniors in various capacities. Most of the time I worked for the local Agency on Aging, where I started a program at a Senior Center to allow home-bound seniors to attend the center. The program was successful and was eventually expanded to seven centers county-wide.
Later, I had the opportunity to start and run a small business on the eastern shore of Maryland. I operated that business for several years and learned a lot about what is required to be an entrepreneur in a small town.
We moved to Williamstown in 2011 and less than two months after we arrived, Tropical Storm Irene raced through town devastating the Spruces Mobile Home Park. I was involved, from the very beginning, helping the residents of the Spruces as a volunteer working directly with individuals impacted by the storm as the Case Management Supervisor. I have been active with Higher Ground, the community organization created to assist the residents of the Spruces and supporting housing in Williamstown generally. I am currently the President of the board. I have worked closely with the many partners involved in creating Highland Woods, which opened to its first residents last month.
I am also involved in other community organizations in Williamstown, including Willinet, the Community Chest, and will be joining the Fund for Williamstown.