Informational Items

Broadband study

posted Jan 19, 2018, 6:37 AM by Jason Hoch

Our proposal for an Efficiency and Regionalization grant to study broadband with other communities in the county was not funded.  Our group is reviewing next steps including self-funding within the members of the group and determining if there are other sources of funding that may be available. Rep. Barrett is meeting with Jay Ash about this on Tuesday as well.

KP Law involvement in opiod litigation

posted Jan 19, 2018, 5:33 AM by Jason Hoch

KP | LAW eUpdate

KP Law Joins Leading Local and National Law Firms Pursuing Opioid Litigation on Behalf of Massachusetts Municipalities

The opioid epidemic has reached a crisis level.  Every municipality in Massachusetts is in some manner addressing the devastating impacts of this problem, from education to treatment, with costs being incurred by police, fire, public health, and school departments, among others.  While this is a national issue, it is most definitely a local problem.

We share the concerns of municipalities and their desire to confront the root cause of this crisis.  Accordingly, we have accepted an invitation to join a coalition of highly experienced local and national law firms to pursue litigation on behalf of individual municipalities against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.  This tort litigation, filed against the primary responsible parties, is not a class action but will instead be separately filed to pursue the specific interests of each municipality. 

We are pleased to partner with firms recognized on the local and national level as leaders in addressing this significant public health issue.  The consortium includes, on a local basis, the firms of Rodman, Rodman & Sandman of Malden, and Sweeney Merrigan of Greenfield.  Our experience with Rodman, Rodman & Sandman, who represented a number of municipalities in the successful MTBE litigation, and the local nature of both firms, led to our affiliating with them on opioid litigation.  

When we worked with municipalities on the MTBE litigation, the cost for this service was borne by the municipalities through their legal budgets.  With respect to the opioid litigation, we will instead be compensated for such services through the settlement or award funds.  Thus, while we will be able to directly advise municipalities on this litigation, the municipalities will not be charged for our services as part of their regular billing.  Instead, compensation for such services will be deducted from the attorney fee already proposed as part of the litigation and our involvement will not result in any additional cost to the municipalities.  Of course, if no award is made or settlement reached, no compensation will be due to the firm.   

Attached is information about the litigation, as well as background on the local and national team.  Representatives of all the firms will be present at the Massachusetts Municipal Association Annual Meeting on January 19th and 20th.  Visit us at booth 1027, or at the MOLA (Massachusetts Opioid Litigation Attorneys) booth number 815.

Please contact Attorneys Mark Reich (, Jonathan Silverstein ( or Lauren Goldberg ( at 617.556.0007 or 1.800.548.3522 or visit with any questions or for more information on how your community can get involved.

Harsch real estate year end review

posted Jan 16, 2018, 11:53 AM by Jason Hoch

2017 saw a reasonably good increase in market activity over 2016 but in terms of the numbers of sales transactions, it is still a wide gap from earlier decades and in the later 1980s specifically. The next highest year of activity was 2004 with 73 sold single family homes, a drop of 27%.


As of this writing (1/15/18) the stock market has reached unprecedented and historic heights attributed by most pundits to a number of factors including exceedingly low interest rates, “the Trump effect tax reform”, rising employment, corporate profitability and low national and international problems. These same pundits are projecting a rosy future ahead with continued accelerated growth in GDP, rising employment, even higher corporate profits and along with all of this a continued rise in the stock market.


Others, in the minority at this time, see troubles ahead as the debt burden weighs against the millennials’  ability to spend as the boomers have up to now.  Roughly 67-70% of the US economy is consumer driven so any weakening of this economic driver will impact GDP thus corporate profits and in turn the markets which are sustained by  the perception and valuations based on corporate performance.


The great question that lies before us is when and if there will be a major or just minor correction in the markets, stocks as well as real estate. The historic trends show periods of growth followed by corrections. The odds of a correction in the year or two ahead of us are greater it would seem, than a significant further advance in values. Demographics as well as the debt burden facing today’s younger buyers suggest the view favoring the decline to be more likely than any significant further increase in asset values. This would be especially true for the high end of the real estate market.


The Berkshire real estate market has been negatively impacted by the departure of employment for decades and the aging and declining population. One look at the volume of high end sales over $1M tells a clear story as to the new make-up of buyers.  


Unless noted otherwise, all statistics below are taken from the Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service. There are a relatively small number of transactions each year which are not handled through the MLS and as such the actual complete numbers of sales are larger but the relative numbers are valid for noting trends.


31   - Number of active For Sale single family listings

10   - Number of active listings over $1M which means that 1/3 or 33% of the entire market inventory is priced above $1M

3     - Number of pending sales

59   - Number of closed sales for calendar 2017, an increase of 8 sales or 15% over 2016 closed sales

51   - Number of homes sold in 2016

2     - Number of closed sales in 2017 above $1M or 3%

2     - Number of closed sales over $1M in 2016

$271,000  - Median selling price for 2017, a 5% increase over median price of $257,500 for 2016

101 - Number of single family homes sold in Williamstown in highest recorded year, 1987

The following statistics are taken from Banker and Tradesman

13   - Number of condominium closed sales in Williamstown in 2017

14   - Number of condominium sales for Williamstown in 1987

20   - Highest number of condominium sales in Williamstown; years 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005


If you’d like any additional specific market information please feel free to email me with your requests.


I always appreciate referrals and will handle any with gratitude, discretion, confidentiality and expertise.


Happy New Year!




Paul A. Harsch III, Realtor® Emeritus, CBI, CRB, CRS, GRI

Serving Buyers and Sellers of Real Estate With Skill and Integrity Since 1975

cid:image001.png@01D1E298.54234900resized harsch logo 60 percent

Additional Q&A from Town Counsel re Marijuana

posted Jan 12, 2018, 5:45 AM by Jason Hoch

Town Meeting can vote a Zoning Bylaw amendment to impose a moratorium on retail sales. That use would have to be clearly defined (if it isn’t already). The marijuana law has a comprehensive definition of “marijuana retailer” which could be slightly modified to define a use rather than a person.

In case you are wondering, I have not ignored your last “quick question” of January 3, namely,

The regulations anticipate Marijuana Delivery Services. Does this mean home delivery to consumers? Can the Town prohibit delivery within the boundaries of Town? Does this allow Retail businesses physically located in other towns to provide products in Williamstown to Williamstown residents?

That may have been a quick question, but finding one of the answers was not. So, here is what we know. Yes, this does mean home delivery to consumers is permitted. And yes to your last question, retailers in other municipalities can deliver to residents in Williamstown. In fact, that was expressly required in the DPH medical marijuana regulations and there are, I am told, several medical dispensaries that deliver statewide. The difficult question is whether a town or city can prohibit deliveries within their boundaries. Neither the statute nor the regulations expressly address it. The law does prohibit municipalities from banning transportation of marijuana products, which I recognize is not fully on point. G.L. c. 94G, s. 3(c). In addition, there is the practical problem of how would such a ban be enforced. All vehicles making deliveries will not be readily identifiable as such, understandable as they will be carrying either product or cash, more likely both. Given these factors, it is our opinion that such a prohibition would be vulnerable to challenge.

Open Meeting Law Seminar

posted Jan 2, 2018, 12:42 PM by Jason Hoch

Attorney Thomas McEnaney from KP Law will be giving a talk in Huntington on the Open Meeting Law and obligations it imposes upon public bodies. 

The event is scheduled for January 17th (Jan. 24 snow date) from 6 – 7:30 pm in Stanton Hall, 26 Russell Road, Huntington, MA.


Anyone who would like to attend the event is asked to respond by January 16th by email or phone. 


Silver Therapeutics follow-up

posted Dec 13, 2017, 7:10 AM by Jason Hoch

Mr. Hoch, 

Please see the below link to Silver Therapeutic's submitted application materials. Please be advised that a few things have changed since I submitted the Phase II application.  First, our initial CFO, William Bischoff, died tragically in a car crash last September.  He is being replaced by Brendan McKee, who you met last night.  We've also changed our the "person in charge of cultivation" to Joshua Ferranto.  These personnel changes will be disclosed to the DPH as an amendment to the Phase II that I will submit along with the completed Phase III application materials.

Second, the Phase II application states that there are no "interested party transactions".  As discussed at the meeting last night, we will be forming a for-profit management company that will enter into a management agreement with Silver Therapeutics.  This will also be disclosed to the DPH with our amended Phase II application.

I am also attaching our projected annual sales figures.  These were provided to us by the Marijuana Policy Group from Denver, Colorado.  The sales figures were calculated by multiplying the population within a certain radius of the proposed dispensary by the percentage of people that tend to use medical and recreational marijuana in states where both are legal.  We have prepared an in-depth market analysis of our proposed location, but I hope the board will understand that it contains proprietary information that we would prefer to keep confidential at this time.

Lastly, I am attaching correspondence from the DPH confirming that our Phase II application was accepted.  Since the acceptance occurred after the DPH updated its website, the approval letter does not show up on the link I provided.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Joshua Silver

Executive Session handout

posted Nov 28, 2017, 7:51 AM by Jason Hoch

Purposes and procedures for Executive Sessions

Jason Out of Office

posted Sep 24, 2017, 6:55 AM by Jason Hoch

I'll be out January 25 and February 6-9.

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