Preview: City Council agenda (March 28)

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

This week: Marijuana, hate groups, tax breaks, recycling, soccer fields, refugees, Airbnb. So much stuff. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Marijuana Ban: The first item of business will be a proposal from Councilor Lukes to figure out if we can ban non-medical marijuana businesses in the city, as Westborough has recently done.
  • Hate Groups: Idella Hazard has a citizen petition asking “the City to respectfully ask all city employees withdraw membership from any and all hate groups.” I don’t know what this is about.
  • Delaying Notre Dame Demolition: The vacant Notre Dame church, across the street from City Hall and adjacent to the CitySquare development, had an official one-year demolition delay enacted last year, a delay which will expire April 15. Deborah Packard, Preservation Worcester, and the Re-Imagine Notre Dame Committee have a petition asking the Council to urge the owners of the building to continue to delay demolition until someone can find someone who’ll put the building to use and not demolish it.
  • Boards and Commissions: Scott Cashman, Nicholas Chacharone and John Lauring have been reappointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The Council needs to vote on reappointing Nancy Garr-Colzie and Paul Keister to the Commission on Disability, Vincent Pedone to the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, and Gerardo Schiano and Paul Smith to the Citizens Advisory Council.
  • Tax Breaks for Development: The City Manager would like the Council to approve a 20-year, $986,000 tax break for a development at the South Worcester Industrial Park. T&G article.
  • 94 Southgate Street: The city is buying this property adjacent to Canterbury Street School for $8000 and forgiveness of $1000 in back taxes, and turning the property into a playground.
  • Recycling: The Commissioner of Public Works has a report outlining possible improvements to our recycling system. Currently we have these bins which are both too small and have no lids, so stuff blows around the streets. Councilor Rosen has lately been very vocal on this issue. We had a pilot program of those 2-wheeled bins in 2010, and clear bags in 2015. This report really clearly outlines the tradeoffs and is worth a read. I’ve lived in cities with all sorts of recycling containers, and clear bags seem like the best choice to me. I am curious to hear your thoughts. T&G article.
  • Street Sweeping: The city will start sweeping main streets March 27, and residential streets April 3. It’ll take about 3 months to get around to all the residential streets. You should be able to find a schedule here.
  • Rectangular Fields: The city now has a Master Plan Initiative for Rectangular Shaped Sports Fields, aka non-baseball fields. The upshot: we should figure a way to have more of these.
  • Resettlement City: The Council asked the Manager for a report on what legislation created the category of “resettlement cities,” who’s responsible for the costs of being a resettlement city, what the impact has been of Worcester being a resettlement city, and how many refugees we’ve had resettled here because we are a resettlement city. The City Solicitor’s response is basically “WTF are you talking about?” and forwarding a photocopy of a State Department Fact Sheet on refugees. According to his response, there is no such category as “resettlement city,” therefore Worcester is not one, therefore none of this request makes any sense.
  • Airbnb Crackdown: The City Solicitor has a report responding to questions from the Council on what laws might apply to Airbnbs in the city. Are Airbnbs subject to the hotel/motel room occupancy tax? No, though the state legislature is considering this. What about Architectural Access Board accessibility requirements? Probably they don’t need to make changes, but any modifications would need to meet these requirements. What laws might currently apply to Airbnb situations? There’s an ordinance about resident families renting out rooms, but the Solicitor notes it’s really hard for the city to keep track of something like that.
  • Psychiatric Capacity: The Council asked for a report on the impact of UMass closing 13 psychiatric beds. Turns out St. Vincent’s is adding 7 beds next year, and UMass is currently working on a 120-bed facility, so these 13 bed won’t be such a big deal.

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