Lowell City Council Meeting: May 15, 2018

ROLL CALL

MAYOR’S BUSINESS

Recognition – Juan Carlos Rivera – National Boys & Girls Club Professional of the Year. Joe Hungler introduces Juan Carlos and tells how he has improved the culture of the Boys & Girls Club and make sure that the club serves those who need it most. He was selected out of 60,000 other professionals from across the country.

CITY CLERK

Minutes of Economic Development SC May 8th; City Council Meeting May 8th, for acceptance.

AUDITOR BUSINESS

Communication – FY18 Budget Report YTD (April). Several large deficits but they are all related to snow and ice removal. Total of about $1.5mil which will have to be paid from other surpluses. Don’t expect to carry anything forward into the next fiscal year.

GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS

Comcast Cable request to amend license for additional storage of flammables 7,380 gals. Diesel (3,690 gals. Class II, AST; 3,690 gals. Class II, AST) at 12 Washer Street.

Ordinance-Amend Zoning Ch. 290 by amending various sections regarding Marijuana. Eric Slagle speaks in favor. Says there was an extensive process, this proposal has gone through several versions. This version is what the administration recommends adopting. It balances allowing its use, deriving some economic benefits from it, but keeping in place the protections requested by the city council.

Phillip McDermott speaks in opposition, suggests a modification of the proposal. He wants to open a facility downtown. Hallie Chambers asks that more central portions of downtown be open to this, not just on the periphery.

Council adopts ordinance unanimously.

Vote-Accept MGL c.64N s.3 impose an excise on retail marijuana sales – Adopts a 3 percent local excise tax on all marijuana sales. Passes unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER

Motion Responses

  1. A) Motion Response – Paws to Read – a therapy program that allows children to read to animals. They’ve found a handler and a dog willing to do it (apparently at no cost to the city).
  2. B) Motion Response – Short Story Dispensers – Originated in France, not many in US. Some libraries around the US have received a grant and have purchased 12 of them. The machines only require electricity. The units cost about $9000 each plus a subscription for $200 per month. Library Director recommends we wait and see how it works at the libraries that have them on order. Councilor Cirillo agrees with the recommendation and looks forward to hearing from the places that will pilot the program.
  3. C) Motion Response – Tour de Lowell – Henri Marchand gives verbal report. The old event had three parts: a kids race on Merrimack Street; an amateur race to the NH line and back; and a professional race that consists of 40 laps downtown. The statewide bike racing association is very interested in participating. Next step is to meet with them and local officials and police. They will meet and report back and if it comes to fruition, it could be held next May.
  4. D) Motion Response – Boating Regulations Merrimack River – Deputy Richardson gives verbal report. The LPD has purchased a boat using law enforcement trust funds. The boat won’t be delivered for the start of the season, so they hope to enlist the Middlesex Sheriff’s boat for the start of the season so that they can enforce the rules right from the start of the boating season.
  5. E) Motion Response – Air BNB Zoning Regulations – Eric Slagle speaks about zoning changes implemented last year that were intended to regulate these types of short term rentals however the city council at the request of neighborhood groups tabled those portions of the zoning ordinance. He says the state legislature is contemplating statewide regulation of these types of units. That measure is in a legislative conference committee right now so he recommends the city holds off on acting on this until the conference committee issues its decision.
  6. F) Motion Response – Gas Repairs in Belvidere
  7. G) Motion Response – Sidewalks
  8. H) Motion Response – Public Applicant Identification

Suspension of Rules: Council then has a lengthy discussion about a property on Clark Road that had a fire but that has not been torn down or repaired in a timely manner. Questions about the sufficiency of the zoning and health codes in preventing this type of situation from recurring. City Manager Donoghue repeatedly asks the council to allow her to compose a full report on this matter for next week. She says no one had notice that it would be discussed tonight since it came up under suspension of rules. Councilors persist in discussing the matter.

Informational Communications

Senate Foundation Budget Education Bill – Report on bill pending in the legislature to adjust the foundation formula. Manager Donoghue explains the areas that need adjustments (health care costs, special education, etc). Says it will dramatically benefit Lowell but also help every community. She says the challenge for the legislature is how to pay for it.

Resolution-Support recommendations of Foundation Budget Review Comm. re funding Foundation Budget-Chapter 70. Passes. However, there is not funding attached to it yet. The “fair share” ballot question, if it passes, is to be earmarked for education. It is expected to bring in up to $2 billion, half of which would go to education. That referendum has been challenged and is pending in the SJC but a decision has to be made by this June.

Tax Title Auction Update – At start of process there were more than 300 parcels. That dropped to just 62 after the process started (the rest paid up their taxes). In April, 60 of the liens were sold in one bundle, so $899,000 in back taxes has been collected as a direct result of this effort.

Communication-Accept resignation of Jude DeHart Hunger Homeless Commission

Communication – Planning Board recommendation with respect to amending Zoning Ordinance regarding regulations for Marijuana.

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Vote-Authorize City Manager Ex. Sidewalk Seating License Agreement-144 Merrimack St. Crepes and the City Inc

Vote-Transfer 11,000 to cover adequate funding for law books and supplements

ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Order-60 day trial (various)

ORDINANCES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Ordinance-Amend Ch. 270 by creating a new section Prohibiting Single-Use Plastic Bags – referred to public hearing.

Ordinance-Amend Ch. 150 Re fines relative to prohibition of plastic bags and consumption of marijuana – referred to public hearing.

Ordinance-Amend Ch. 222 Peace and Good Order by prohibiting the consumption of marijuana in public – referred to public hearing.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution-Support H2121 An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution. Passes unanimously.

REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)

Finance SC joint with School Committee Finance SC May 14, 2108. Councilor Elliott reports. Says the budget will be presented to the council on May 29. At the subcommittee meeting there was a discussion about Medicaid reimbursement that comes back from the Federal government. Also discussed keeping special education students in district rather than going out of district as a way of saving money on the same level of services.

Environment & Flood Issues SC May 15, 2018. The meeting opened by there was a disruption by people in attendance so the meeting was adjourned without taking any additional action.

PETITIONS

Claim – (1) Property Damage.

Misc. – Leontino Da Silva request installation of (1) handicap parking sign at 322 Lawrence Street.

165 Thorndike Street Corp., LLC – RUK Realty Corp. request license for storage of flammables 1,050 gals. Diesel Class II, AST at 165 Thorndike Street.

Misc. – National Grid request permission to install underground electric conduit along Quebec Street from Blossom Street to Maple Street.

CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS

  1. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have City Engineer begin process to accept Grosvenor Street.
  2. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss home rule petition to fully fund charter school reimbursements to cities and towns.
  3. Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. have Law Dept. draft City Council Resolution in support of Senate Bill 2506 (An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century).
  4. Kennedy – Req. Mayor invite the following Merrimack Valley cities of Lawrence, Haverhill, Newburyport and Methuen to join with the City of Lowell in support of Senate Bill 2506.
  5. Kennedy – Req. Mayor invite surrounding communities in the Greater Lowell area to join with the City of Lowell in support of Senate Bill 2506.
  6. Kennedy – Req. City of Lowell join with Brockton and Worcester pursuant to their lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts re: Foundation Budget (CH. 70).
  7. Cirillo – Req. Neighborhoods SC hold periodic meetings within the next eight months, in the Chamber or in the neighborhoods, to take up various items that have been brought up during their meetings.
  8. Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. provide the Council with a report regarding the safety of the Smart Water Meters being installed throughout the City.
  9. Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. provide an update to Council regarding the State’s response to the issues that arise at the Sampas Pavilion ie, late night noise; parking; and safety.
  10. Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. have “No Parking From Here to Corner” signs installed at the end of Richardson Street by McPherson Park.
  11. Samaras – Req. City Mgr. review the costs of creating a “311” number for the City of Lowell. Mayor Samaras explains when he first came on the council he brought this up but was told it would cost too much money. But he says Haverhill has instituted a 311 system funded entirely by grants. He believes some of our residents have difficulty navigating the city’s website and would be better able to obtain services by a 311 information/assistance telephone system.
  12. Samaras – Req. City Mgr. instruct proper department to ensure all restaurants with sidewalk seating comply with the 48 inch clearance as required by the American With Disabilities Act. Members of the city’s Commission on Disabilities have brought to his attention the importance of maintaining this space on the sidewalk. He says he walked around downtown and witnessed seating areas that may be 48 inches from the curb, but the parking kiosks or light poles are also in that 48 inch space which defeats its purpose.

ANNOUNCEMENTS – Center for Hope and Healing has an event tomorrow at 6pm.

ADJOURNMENT – Adjourns at 9:12 pm.

2 Responses to Lowell City Council Meeting: May 15, 2018

  1. Taxpayer says:

    Councilor Cirillo should be embarrassed and I’m personally disgusted about her behavior. She clearly set this updoesnt get it. Is this professional do we want everyone to do this to every meeting? Seriously grow up councilor or move on this isn’t kiddy camp in fact we are 4 largest City in the commonwealth we rampant problems. Grow up or resign.

  2. Lorraine Farmer says:

    Thank you Dick for these reports from City Council Meetings!
    I usually watch the whole sessions on LTC but it’s gardening season and that 2 hour commitment is used up working the newly reacquired ‘Adopted Island’ as well as my own landscaping.
    Question: May 14 meeting Councilor Kennedy refers to a Senate Bill 2506
    I’m afraid I don’t know what that is?
    Thanks again,

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