Lowell City Council Meeting: November 13, 2018
ROLL CALL – all present
Minutes of City Council Meeting November 6th, for acceptance.
Vote-Cancel Council Meetings 11.27.18, 12.25.18 and 1.1.19 – meetings cancelled.
AUDITOR BUSINESS – Communication – FY19 Budget Report YTD (September). – Councilor Elliott asks several questions about certain items such as Workers’ Comp which are running over budget right now. City Solicitor says this account often runs a deficit because it is usually level funded while medical care costs and salaries have risen. She adds that there has been a significant increase in the number of injury claims made by School Dept personnel.
GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS
Ordinance-Create New Position and Salary of Syringe Collection Program Coordinator at Health and Human Services Dept. Director of Health and Human Services Department speaks in favor of the motion. Fire Chief Jeff Windward speaks in favor of this. There’s a great risk to all residents but especially to public safety employees and other city employees. City Manager explains that Trinity will respond to needle discoveries on nights and weekends. This person will do it during the week, but will also work proactively to provide education, to go to places where there are heavy concentrations of needles.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER
A) Restorative Justice Program – presentation at subcommittee meeting next Tuesday.
B) LFD and LPD Responses to Marijuana Facilities – Councilor Elliott asks about a public meeting on Westford Street that’s already been scheduled. Manager Donoghue says state regulations require a potential applicant to organize and host a community meeting that is separate from any negotiations with city government. It’s two separate things. As for existing marijuana facilities, neither the fire department nor the police department have had any problems with them.
C) LTLC Shelter Issues – Discussion about finding a place for shelter residents to go during the day, something like the equivalent of the Senior Center, The Boys and Girls Club, or UTEC. The homeless can only sleep inside the shelter; they can’t stay there during the day. Councilor Mercier suggests something like a “recovery café” that might provide fitness program, computer education, etc.
D) National Grid Gas Updates – City Mangere is meeting with National Grid representatives. Will inquire about the ongoing safety of Lowell gas installations. Because National Grid is now under investigation, they have declined to participate in any public meetings but they are meeting with the manager and others.
E) Railway Issues – Pan Am railways has been unresponsive to communications from the city. The railroad takes the position that federal law insulates it from the city’s jurisdiction over these types of matters. Manager Donoghue says the city is working with the MBTA on this too, which may provide a useful avenue for addressing this. Manager concedes that the city doesn’t have much leverage over the railroad.
Open Space Plan – Presentation by Christine McCall and Yovanni Baez of Planning Department. They hosted several public meetings, conducted surveys, attended numerous neighborhood meetings. Came up with 10 main themes the public desired (like more and better sidewalks). From that, they identified six objectives such as “improve pedestrian connections and experience.”
Communication-Appoint and Reappoint members to the Hunger Homeless Commission – approved
VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Vote-Accept and Expend Municipal Energy Technical Assistance Grant from DOER for up to $12,500.00 – authorized.
Vote-Authorize City Manager Ex. License Agreement (overhanging sign) 18 Hurd St.-Salem Five Cents Savings Bank – authorized.
Vote-Authorize Mgr. Ex. MOU Local 1705A 7.1.18-6.30.21 – authorized.
ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
[This item was moved to the top of the agenda]. Order-60 Day Trial (Perry Street). Resident of 80 Rogers St speaks saying that the one way trial on Perry Street worked well but is disappointed the city now wants to discontinue that and make no parking on one side of Perry St. Another resident says that the one way street is not working. She says they should return the street to two way travel and prohibit parking on one side. Both speakers say that the condominiums at the corner of Perry and Rogers Street have inadequate parking. The zoning board required the developer to provide three spaces per unit but the developer only provided two per unit. This is what is causing the problem. Another resident who lives on Perry Street says warns that once it snows it will be even worse. She wants it put back to the way it was. Says everyone else is being penalized because the condo developer didn’t comply with the order of the zoning board and the city failed to enforce the order of the zoning board. City traffic engineer says it’s just a bad situation. It’s dangerous and will get worse after snow falls. The condo plans submitted did call for 3 spaces per unit but that might not be what happened. She said you shouldn’t leave it the way it is. Should either eliminate parking on one side and leave it two way or leave parking on both sides and leave it as one way. Councilor Mercier argues for Perry St to be one way for its entire length. Traffic engineer says everyone she has heard from would prefer it to be two way. Councilor Mercier says everyone she has heard from wants it one way. City Manager explains that when condos were approved, the expectation was that condo residents would not need any on-street parking since developer was expected to provide sufficient off-street parking. That didn’t happen. Condo residents must park on the street. There is great demand for on-street parking. City Manager recommends terminating the 60-day one way trial, refer it back to the Traffic Engineer for further study and a recommendation. Councilor Elliott asks if there is a way to enforce the order regarding condo parking. City Manager says that’s what people are saying but she’s not sure if that’s what made it into the final planning board order. Council terminates 60 day trial and refers to Traffic Engineer.
REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
Zoning SC November 13, 2018. Report from Subcommittee Chair Jim Milinazzo. This is the third meeting about amendments to rental property ordinance. Says more than 100 people attended. The proposed ordinance is “still a work in progress.”
Claims – (2) Property Damage.
Misc. – Jorge Gomez request installation of handicap parking sign at 427 Lakeview Avenue.
Misc. – Luz Vallanilla request installation of handicap parking sign at 95 Lunberg Street.
Misc. – Mildred Kercher request installation of handicap parking sign at 58 Fay Street #1.
Misc. – Vimalkumar Patel (Pacific Liquors) request installation of (1) “15 Minute” parking sign at 421 Central Street and (1) “15 Minute” parking sign around corner on Charles Street.
Misc. – Kim Hyder request permission to address Council regarding signage and safety concerns in the area of 219 Jackson Street.
CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS
Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report from Elections Department regarding updating all voter equipment. No discussion
Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding review of the physical locations of City Hall Departments to ensure efficient operations. No discussion
Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding evaluation and review of existing City Hall departments to ensure efficient operations. No discussion
Samaras – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding steps that can be taken to increase the availability of parking in the Hamilton Canal District prior to the building of the new garage. Mayor explains that the courthouse is to open next year so he’s concerned about the plan for parking there, but he’s also concerned about current parking availability (or unavailability). He says he doesn’t have an answer but wants to the city planners to start looking at it. Manager Donoghue says this is a big issue and she will have a report on it soon.
CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION
Executive Session – Regarding matter of litigation, namely Huot et al v. City of Lowell, public discussion of any of these matters would have a detrimental effect on the City’s position. Council goes into Executive Session. Will adjourn from Executive Session.
2 Responses to Lowell City Council Meeting: November 13, 2018
Simple solution to the Perry St problem. The developer didn’t do what they were supposed to….figure out how many units should be occupied based on the actual number of parking spaces, then cancel occupancy permits on the rest until the developer does what they were supposed to do. That should light a fire under the developers posterior since they will get sued by the buyers for being sold illegal units.
Is there a way for folks to find out the fate of the parking space issue? This seems an odd slippage in Lowell.