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Northampton City Council agenda: Land conservation, ordinance changes, board appointments

In the Meadows, the state Department of Agricultural Resources, working with the city and the Kestrel Land Trust, intends to buy an agricultural preservation restriction on an 8.5-acre site at 141 Fair Street Extension. Situated east of Interstate 91, the land is owned by Marcia D. Russell and is primarily used to grow crops and vegetables.

The agreement calls for the state to pay 80 percent of the restriction, or $13,600, with the city paying the balance of $3,400 in Community Preservation Act money.

The restriction keeps farming as the only allowed use of land in perpetuity and would be jointly held the by state and city. A house lot located on the site would be excluded from the restriction.

In addition to the APR, the council will consider an order giving the Conservation Commission permission to buy about 9 acres between North Farms and Coles Meadow roads to expand the Broad Brook Greenway near the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area. The Rothenberg-Wolpin family is selling the land for $10,800, money that would come from an existing CPA grant and community donations.

The purchase would remove a significant wildlife and ecological gap in the greenway and help protect area drinking water supplies, according to the order. And the council is expected to take a second, required vote to authorize the purchase of 58.2 acres off Sylvester Road in the western end of the city to expand the Saw Mill Hills Conservation Area. The Szymanski family is selling the land for $232,864, money that would come from grants and donations.

The acquisition is the Conservation Commission’s top priority and will preserve some of the “most ecologically valuable land in the city,” the order states.

The council meeting begins with public comment at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

Other items on the council’s agenda include:

∎ Public hearings for National Grid at 7:05 p.m., for approval of the installation of underground conduits on Masonic Street near Center Street, and at 7:10 p.m., a petition to relocate a pole near the King-Barrett intersection.

∎ A second vote on a resolution calling for the city to divest from investing in fossil fuel companies.

∎ A second vote on a host of ordinance amendments related to zoning, including the first overhaul of residential zone changes for the first time in three decades.

∎ A presentation from Michael J. Allard, highway safety officer for the Northampton Police Department, about a pedestrian and bicycle safety and equipment grant.

∎ The release of executive session minutes from meetings held Jan. 3 and July 11.

∎ A second vote on an ordinance change that requires mobile food vehicle operators to get a permit from the police department. The changes also prohibit such vehicles from operating in the Central Business District downtown or in areas of Florence zoned general business.

∎ An order to place a ballot question before voters in November asking for permission to fund removal of snow and ice from private ways. The joint City Council-Board of Public Works Conference Committee is recommending against such a measure.

∎ A request to merge the Historic District Commission with the Historical Commission.

∎ Several appointments: Lynne Wallace, of 110 Cardinal Way, to the Housing Authority; and Patricia E. Healey, of 21 Longfellow Drive, and Elaine Reall, of 12 East St., to the Council on Aging. Several reappointments: Robert L. Montague to the Council on Aging and Tom Parent to the Recreation Commission. Additionally, Karla Youngblood is up for appointment from associate to full member of the Planning Board.

∎ An order to rescind a March 2012 authorization to borrow $535,000 for the purchase of property on Coles Meadow Road to expand the Broad Brook-Fitzgerald Lake Greenway. In many cases, the funding authorizations do not reflect money that is actually spent, but are necessary to secure money from other sources.

∎ Authorization to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments to provide administrative support related to the city’s membership in the Franklin County Economic Target Area. The agreement, which began a decade ago, requires the city to pay $1,000 annually to the council.

∎ A transfer of $8,661 from a reserve for personnel account to the Board of Health’s permanent salaries account to pay for additional hours per week for the public health nurse. The additional hours, from 20 to 30 per week, are the result of the dissolution of an agreement with Amherst to jointly fund a public health nurse for both communities.

∎ An order hiring Scanlan and Associates Inc., of South Deerfield, to conduct an independent audit for the city.

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