Preview: City Council agenda (February 27)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: So much stuff.

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

  • Residential Zoning Changes: Councilor Russell would like to change the zoning regs for RL-7 “Limited Residence” zones. Currently, you can build “low-rise multi-family dwellings” and “single-family attached dwellings” with a special permit. Russell’s changes would make that a blanket “no.” You could still have things like a single-family attached dwelling or a group residence.
  • A Giant Heart Behind City Hall: Bill Coleman (who has a giant heart) would like the city to make a mosaic of the city seal on the Common.
  • Fatty Jenkins Basketball Court: Councilor Rivera would like the City Manager to attend an April 5 meeting at the Network Center concerning a plan for the city to take ownership of the basketball court on Piedmont St. This plan has been a long time coming. As I understand it from going to some neighborhood meetings, currently a semi-defunct trust owns the property. The city would like to switch the entrance from Hawley to Piedmont St and do more trash pickup. (The currently Hawley St entrance is the site of lots of police incidents and the occasional drug dealing.)
  • Stop Making Your Own Driveway: Councilor Rosen wants people to stop making DIY driveways that take away curb parking and encourage people to drive back and forth over the curb.
  • Let’s Use the Lincoln Square Tunnel More: Councilor Rosen wants to know if we can reroute Lincoln Square traffic so as to make better use of this tunnel.
  • Let’s Privatize the Bus: Councilor Rosen would like to get a private bus company to provide unsubsidized service to part of the city, so that the WRTA could make better use of its resources in the rest of the city.
  • Cleaning Up Patch Reservoir: Councilor Wally would like the Manager to devise a plan to resolve problems with Patch Reservoir, such as water quality and access. He would also like “the abutting piece of property” moved under control of the Conservation Commission.
  • Encouraging Owner-Occupancy: Councilor Russell would like the Manager to encourage home ownership of the 2- and 3-family homes in our “general residence” RG-5 neighborhoods. He would also like to include facade improvements in this plan, and do particular outreach to the employees of our colleges.
  • Affirmative Action: Councilor Rivera would like the Manager to update our affirmative action policies and hiring to do a better job ensuring equity. (There are no specifics in this item. I am told Councilor King will sign onto this as well.) Activists are planning to rally at the meeting around this item.
  • Flags of Diversity: Councilor Lukes would like us to fly some flags downtown “representing the diversity of the city’s population.”
  • Shutting Down Group Homes: Councilor Lukes would like a report on “any and all public licenses, certifications, notices, etc” that are required of our “group homes, shelters, and sober houses.” This ties in with the years-long quest of the Council to find some way to get Council control over such establishments, which are otherwise protected by state, not local, law.
  • 65 Kenwood Ave: Councilor Mero-Carlson would like an official report of code violations for 65 Kenwood Ave. (It has been some time since complaints about a specific address surfaced at a Council meeting.)
  • Hats and Gloves for the Homeless: Councilor Bergman would like the city to buy “hats and gloves” for the homeless next winter. (I am not sure what prompted this item; there are of course considerable efforts among the public to take care of this need each winter.)
  • Holden Stop Pollutin Indian Lake: Councilor Rose would like the city’s lawyer to figure out if we can stop “fertilizer and nutrient run off that is entering Indian Lake from the Town of Holden.”
  • Street Changes: The Council will likely approve a request by Nick Smith to remove the tiny Warmland St, a private street in Quinsig Village, from the official map.
  • Zoning Changes: The Council will likely approve zoning changes that would see part of 408 Pleasant St and an adjacent part of Winslow St rezoned from residential to commercial and added to the Commercial Corridor Overlay District. These are at Ed Hyder’s Market. The Council will likely approve cleaning up the zoning of 127 Cambridge St to make it all “Business Limited.” The Council will likely approve rezoning all the parcels at 7 Brookfield St to make it uniformly “General Residence.”
  • Marijuana Zoning: The City Manager would like to keep marijuana establishments out of residential areas and away from schools. They could be allowed in business or manufacturing areas in a permit. The T&G has much more.
  • Can There Be Private Marijuana Clubs?: The Council approved last week, though it was not previously on the agenda, a request from Councilor Lukes for details on the legal status of private marijuana clubs in Worcester. As it happens, today the state Cannabis Control Commission touched on social clubs for weed, however they didn’t do anything so these remain legal.
  • Boards and Commissions: The Council will vote whether to appoint Lindsey Silva to the Commission on Disabilities, and Madison Friend to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
  • More Boards and Commissions: The city has responded to several questions from Councilor Lukes on making changes to our boards and commissions. Can city employees be on boards and commissions? No, but this is a matter of policy and management, it is not prohibited by law. Can someone be on multiple boards? No, but this is a matter of policy, not law. The current City Manager says he wants to stick with the current policies. What would it take to change the lengths of City Council terms and the times of Council elections? Full-blown Charter Change, that’s what.

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