Report on Lowell City Council meeting of Sept 24, 2013

Long ago there was an unwritten rule that councilors would refrain from placing motions on the agenda on election night so they could get back out and meet the last few voters of the day. For good or for ill that tradition ended a while ago. Tonight there are eleven motions on the agenda along with all the other usual stuff. Here are the things that captured my attention (partly because of the amount of time devoted to them):

There was a long discussion about a petition by Daly General Contracting Inc that asked the city council to grant an easement that would allow a retaining wall built by the petitioner on city-owned/controlled land (without permission) to remain in place. The principal of Daly General Contracting, David Daly, spoke at length about how shabbily the city administration treated him as he sought to rectify the problem. Several councilors joined in chastising the city administration; none spoke in its defense (City Manager Lynch was not in attendance at this meeting). Assistant City Manager Adam Baacke did say that he was surprised that there was any controversy about this because he was urging the council to grant the easement as the best solution to problem. The council voted unanimously to send the petition to the Law Department to draft the proper vote.

Report of Neighborhood Subcommittee (Chaired by Councilor Leahy with Councilors Lorrey and Mercier as members): This subcommittee met on September 17, 2013 on the issue of pursuing an ordinance that would allow residents to maintain chickens in their yards. At the conclusion of that meeting, the subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend to the full council to “not continue with this process and to end the discussion of the same.” After Subcommittee Chair Leahy made that recommendation, Councilor Kennedy moved that the full council adopt the recommendation of the subcommittee (which would end any further consideration of the backyard chicken ordinance). Mayor Murphy relinquished the chair so he could urge the council not to have a final vote tonight but instead to schedule a formal hearing. Councilor Nuon said he would not support this motion because he thought a pilot program that tested the concept was the best way to go. Councilors Mercier and Elliott both said that their constituents had made it clear that they were opposed to the chicken ordinance and they were ready for a final vote tonight. On a roll call vote, the motion to end all consideration of a backyard chicken ordinance in Lowell passed by a 6 to 3 vote with the yes votes (to kill the chicken debate) coming from Councilors Kennedy, Leahy, Mercier, Elliott, Lorrey and Martin and the no votes (to continue the chicken debate) coming from Mayor Murphy and Councilors Nuon and Mendonca. So the idea of backyard chickens in Lowell is dead.


C. Lorrey – Request City Manager (RCM) have proper department conduct a study regarding feasibility of placing sidewalks on Douglas Rd and on Pine St between Westford St and Princeton Blvd. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Lorrey – RCM have proper department look into possibility of placing stop signs on Shaw St at various intersections that may require them. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Lorrey – RCM have proper department look into the possibility of developing a local dollar program in the City. (By this is meant a type of prepaid card program for UML and MCC students that would be accepted by local vendors). Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Lorrey – RCM have proper department consider designating parts of Fletcher St as a School Zone. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Lorrey/C. Mercier – RCM have proper department install a gate or a fence in front of bathrooms located at South Common pool on South St. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Leahy – RCM have proper department revisit the signage on Varnum Ave as it pertains to children walking to and from school. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Leahy – Request Neighborhood Subcommittee meet to generate new ideas for traffic solutions in and around the city, including but not limited to, speeding, parking and proper signage. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Leahy – RCM have proper department report on procedures for posting signage on properties in accordance with building permits. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

C. Leahy – Have Lowell Police Department issue report regarding recent shootings in the city. Several other councilor took this opportunity to talk about motions they had already made or intended to make. This motion passed on a voice vote but it clearly will be an issue of much discussion in the coming weeks due to recent incidents of violence.

M. Murphy – RCM explore creation of one advisory Sustainability Commission with four (Green Building, Recycling and Composting, Bicycle and Pedestrian, and Food Security) subcommittees to better implement the vision of our master plan. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

M. Murphy – Request City Clerk work with administration to develop transparent and coordinated process for scheduling and posting public meetings. The mayor said “the motion speaks for itself.” Councilor Leahy asked what the motion meant. The mayor explained that there have been a number of instances in which rooms for subcommittee meetings were double-booked, that sort of thing. Passed unanimously on voice vote.

Motion to adjourn passes at 8:40 pm.

2 Responses to Report on Lowell City Council meeting of Sept 24, 2013

  1. Nancy Greene says:

    Delighted to read about a feasibility study of placing sidewalks anywhere in the Highlands. Weaved my car in and out of 8 dog walkers on Highland streets on my 2 mile trip to temple Sunday morning. Grateful for the coffee I consumed before leaving home. Less alert would have been disastrous. Beautiful greyhounds though…