Resolution calling for new gun laws to highlight Northampton council meeting Thursday

  • Northampton City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

@BeraDunau
Published: 4/18/2018 3:05:17 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Advocating for new gun laws, seeking to get rid of the requirement to post some government actions in the newspaper, and rezoning changes are just some of the actions that the City Council is set to take up at its Thursday meeting.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers at 212 Main St., and will be open to the public.

The council will also vote on a resolution that advocates for four new gun-control measures, and expresses appreciation for the leadership of young people on this issue. It is being voted on in its second reading.

At the council’s April 5 meeting, City Council President Ryan O’Donnell, one of the resolution’s sponsors, explained that the measure came from a place of emotion, recalling the massive mobilization by youth in favor of gun control at the March 14 Pioneer Valley March for Our Lives.

“I think we have to join with them in their demand,” O’Donnell said.

The resolution passed 8-0, with Ward 1 Councilor Maureen Carney absent. Although resolutions do not carry the force of law, they do reflect the feelings of the council.

Two ordinances that the council will take up on first reading would eliminate the requirement to post notices in newspapers for site-plan review projects and projects requiring central business architecture review. Wayne Feiden, Northampton’s director of planning and sustainability, said that these two categories are the only newspaper posting requirements in the city that are not mandated by state law.

“It’s just to reflect how people get information,” Feiden said.

He said that fewer and fewer people read legal ads, and that the city is looking to focus its energies and money more on posting signs on the properties in question informing the public of upcoming hearings. He also noted that the city is looking to improve its online outreach.

Feiden estimated that the city spends about $2,000 a year total on all legal notices, but said that this action wasn’t a money issue and more about effectively getting the word out.

“We’d have to look at it at the time,” said Feiden, if the city would move to eliminate all legal newspaper postings if allowed by state law.

The council will also take up a number of rezoning ordinances in first reading. They include eliminating business park zoning, and rezoning part of the business park area on Easthampton Road as Office Industrial. Feiden said that the remaining business park area would become open space.

Another ordinance would rezone a number of parcels acquired by the city for conservation to Farms, Forests, Rivers, the designation that Feiden said the city zones its conservation land and “allows almost no development.”

The old wireworks building on Federal Street is set to be rezoned from Urban Residential B to Office Industrial through another ordinance, a designation which would allow a mixed use for the property.

The council is set to vote on the first reading of the adoption of the PACE program, which provides a financing mechanism to private entities for some energy improvements of commercial and industrial properties.

Additionally, an order to establish water and sewer rates in the city for fiscal 2019 will be voted on in second reading, as will an ordinance regulating the activities of taxis and livery vehicles.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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