Monthly Archives: September 2017

Preview: City Council agenda (September 26)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Accessory apartments, taxes, opiods.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Rezoning 1097 Pleasant St: Allyn Jones has a citizen petition asking 1 Tiverton Parkway and the adjacent 1097 Pleasant St to have their zoning changed so the whole parcel is commercial.
  • Accessory Apartments: Attorney Donald J. O’Neill is submitting a petition from Guri Dura and Marjeta Skenderi asking that zoning rules be changed such that people can create “accessory apartments” by splitting off part of their existing dwelling, with a permit. I am not really sure what this means, but I am very much in favor of expanding our housing options.
  • Single Tax Rate: For many years, Worcester has had different property tax rates for residential and commercial properties. The Council’s Economic Development Committee requests that the City Manager, Chamber of Commerce, and Research Bureau write up a report on how things have gone in Auburn since that town switched to a single property tax rate.
  • Resurfacing More Streets: Councilor Rosen has an item asking for a report on ideas that would allow the city to resurface streets and sidewalks more quickly. At the moment, once you have put in a resurfacing request with the city, I believe it takes around 2 years for the resurfacing to happen.
  • Suing Drug Companies: Mayor Petty will ask the Manager about Worcester suing opiod manufacturers and distributors, presumably for the problems their products have cause the city and its residents.
  • Finance Committee: At some point, this Council meeting will temporarily become a Finance Committee meeting as councilors consider Councilor Lukes’s proposal to reduce taxes based on how our finances have gone so far this year.

Preview: City Council agenda (September 19)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Boards and commissions, marijuana, panhandling, sober houses.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Public and Private Streets: Robin Read requests part of St. Marks Rd. be made a public street. Paul Blanchard Jr requests another part of the road be removed as an official road and deeded to him.
  • Boards and Commissions: Councilor Gaffney has been delaying all board and commission appointments by an extra week, as is his right as councilor. So the following are on this week’s agenda but will likely not be officially happen till next week’s meeting. Jim Knowlton will be reappointed to the Civic Center Commission, and Paul Foley and Patrick Maloney will be appointed to the Trust Funds Commission. The Council will vote as to whether to reappoint Shirley Konneh and Aivi Nguyen to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
  • Senior Housing: Previously, Councilor Bergman asked if the Council could approve tax exemptions for property improvements made to add housing for senior relatives of the property owner. This week, the City Solicitor reports that it would be pretty straightforward to approve property tax exemptions for approx $25,000 of improvements, and that this wouldn’t cut the city’s tax revenues too much.
  • Marijuana Regulations: The Manager will report to the Council about his recommendations on regulating marijuana stores in the city. This will include a bunch of licensing restrictions and a 3% city tax. The T&G has more.
  • Raising Revenue: The Council will vote on whether the Manager should go forward with exploring all the options for increasing revenue recommended by the Mayor’s Tax Policy Committee last year. These include things like getting the state to reimburse us for our providing regional social services, and paying us more in lieu of taxes for the various state-owned properties in the city.
  • Panhandling: Are you kidding me? There is no issue on which the Council has screwed up so thoroughly in recent years, from legislative process through to execution through to getting the city’s ass sued, as they have in their attempts to crack down on people begging money on street corners. Councilor Rosen attempts to run an electric charge through the world’s crappiest Frankenstein monster again this week with an agenda item asking the Mayor “to appoint a task force” on the issue.
  • Amazon: Councilor Lukes asks the Manager to work with the surrounding towns to submit a proposal on behalf of the region for Amazon to build a second HQ here.
  • Sober Houses: Councilor Lukes has a couple items asking if the city can have its own set of regulations on “sober houses.” Here’s an old T&G article on the issue. I’ve never lived next to or in a sober house, but I’ve heard a hundred horror stories from people living in badly managed sober houses. I am a little skeptical that the City Council would do a better job than the state legislature in drafting regulations around this. Who knows.

This week’s Worcester School Committee meeting

And it’s the opening of school report! That’s not yet posted, but the agenda is here.

Before the meeting, there is an executive session on negotiations with nurses, custodians, computer technicians, and non-represented personnel, plus two issues in litigation.

This agenda has the lists of resignations, retirements, and moves within the system (there will be more than one round of this); note that the two administrators who have become superintendents elsewhere–Marco Rodrigues in Hudson and Dave Perda in the Worcester Roman Catholic Diocese–are listed.

There is a response on the celebration of Constitution Day (which was yesterday).

There are seven prior year payments:

  • in the amount of $1,470.38 for a student who attended the Waltham Public Schools from September 16, 2016 to June 17, 2017.
  • in the amount of $194.40 for mileage reimbursement for a parent to drive to and from the Thrive day school placement at 100 Hartwell Street, West Boylston, MA in May and June 2017.
  • in the amount of $6,290.00 made payable to May Institute, Inc.
  • in the amount of $8,827.50 for Education Inc. services for home tutoring.
  • in the amount of $2,250 for teacher professional development at Project Lead The Way which was held at WPI.
  • in the amount of $3,000 for Project Lead The Way’s participation fees.
  • in the amount of $1,600 for an employee.

Miss Biancheria wants to celebrate Manufacturing Day (October 6), to recognize Superintendent Binienda’s Healthy Communities award, and to have a report on transportation. 

Mr. Monfredo wants an update on teaching CPR.

There is a request that the School Committee vote to accept a 21st Century Out of School Time Grant for Claremont Academy for $150,000, ‘though there is no backup.

And apparently we’re getting yet another limited admission “academy,” this time at North High for Microsoft Image. The School Committee is being asked to approve the admissions requirement and letter. with no prior conversation…

Preview: City Council agenda (September 5)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Boards and commissions, windows and conversion therapy, senior housing and group homes.

Next Tuesday, September 12, there’s a preliminary city election in 2 City Council Districts [PDF]. People in District 1 can choose among Edward Moynihan, Bill Coleman, Gerardo Schiano, and Sean Rose. People in District 5 can choose among Doug Arbetter, Matt Wally, Paul Franco, and Benjamin Champagne. The top vote-getters will face off on the final election ballot in November.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Rethinking the PawSox: Councilor Lukes has an item asking the Council to reconsider its quick vote in favor of trying to get the PawSox baseball team to move to Worcester, and to let her speak on this issue.
  • Boards and Commissions: Janet Theerman will be appointed to the Historical Commission; and Amanda Kidd Schall will be appointed to the Worcester Arts Council. The Council will vote on whether or not to appointment Krystal Vanhorne to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women; Danaah McCallum to the Community Development Advisory Committee; and John Gleason, Fitzroy Hall, Darya Kuruna and Stephen Stolberg to the Commission on Disabilities. The last time an item like this came up, Councilor Gaffney expressed his concerns about how this process happens by holding up the appointments before the Council. So it’s possible he’ll delay these as well. (This would not be the first time a Councilor did something like this, either.) Still to be appointed or reappointed are Donna Connolly and Benjamin Roberts to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women; Suzanne Graham and Arline Rosario to the Community Development Advisory Committee; and Andrew Freilich to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Orders of Taking: The Council will either take (and pay for) or discontinue (so they are no longer city streets) parts of Washington Square, Southbrige St, and Foster St. These are small bits and pieces, having their status changed for things like installing a power transformer or speeding up redevelopment.
  • Encouraging Senior Housing: Councilor Bergman has an item asking the Council to approve tax exemptions for property improvements made to add housing for senior relatives of the property owner. This is an issue he’s been pushing on for a long time.
  • Dover Amendment: The “Dover Amendment” is a state law which prohibits the city from putting many restrictions on the ability of nonprofits to buy houses and turn them into group homes, and other things like that. For many years the Council has been voting on items opposing the Dover Amendment, with no results. Councilor Bergman has another such item on the agenda of this meeting.
  • Stopping the “Way Finding” Project: For more than 10 years now, the city has been slowly installing signs meant to help visitors orient themselves in the city. Councilor Lukes has an item asking if, in this age of smartphones and Google Maps, we should stop spending time and money on this.
  • War on Windows: Councilor Lukes has another amazing item opposing the “unwelcoming combination of unattractive walls of windows along Foster/Franklin Streets” and asking if we can have a design review process to avoid such things in the future.
  • No to “Conversion Therapy”: The state legislature is currently considering bills that would “prohibit state licensed mental health professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy practices to change sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” Mayor Petty has an item asking the Council to go on record as supporting these prohibitions.