Ordinance Minutes 12-8-20
December 8, 2020
Meeting combined with the Holyoke Planning Board
Members present: Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi, Vice Chair Juan Anderson-Burgos, Linda Vacon, Libby Hernandez, Terry Murphy
Other councilors present: Joe McGiverin
Chairwoman Lisi called the meeting to order at 6:40pm
Chairwoman Lisi: noted that the administrative assistant created a google drive with orders filed and supporting documents and noted that all documents would be available for public record. Also noted that Michael Moriarty would have presentations for the One Holyoke agenda items and Marcos Marrero would present for the marijuana agenda items.
Sharon Konstantinidis (Head Administrative Clerk for Planning Department): stated she has a drive with zoning maps that could be shared.
John Kelley (Planning Board Vice Chairman): called meeting of the Planning Board to order.
Eileen Regan: made a motion to open public hearing for the application of One Holyoke Community Development Corp. Zone change from BL to DR for 125 Sargeant St, seconded by Mimi Panitch. All Planning Board members in favor.
Panitch: asked if both zoning changes are being heard together.
Lisi: suggested that separate spaces should be heard separately.
Murphy: suggested that the two changes work together.
Michael Moriarty: noted that the two properties are adjacent to one another and that they applied separately for clarity, to assure a paper record for each parcel.
Lisi: noted that since it is the same project, it could be a single discussion.
Panitch: made a motion to open public hearing for the application of One Holyoke Community Development Corp. Zone change from BL to DR for 414 Maple St, seconded by Eileen Regan. All Planning Board members in favor.
Murphy: made motion to take items 1 and 2 as a package, seconded by Anderson-Burgos. All Ordinance Committee members in favor.
Chairwoman Lisi read items 1 and 2 into the record.
1: From One Holyoke Community Development Corp. Zone change from BL to DR for 125 Sargeant St.
2: PUBLIC HEARING: 8/4/20 From One Holyoke Community Development Corp. Zone change from BL to DR for 414 Maple St.
Moriarty: stated the reason for the request is that One Holyoke CDC owns a 10-unit block on corner of Maple and Sargeant Streets. Noted that next to that, a property was purchased at 414 Maple St that is an enclosed area, no utility on its own. Noted that next door neighbor, Garcia Properties, LLC, does have a use, would expand lot of 3 family home for benefit of tenants. Presented a zoning map of the area. Stated the intent is to sell area to neighbor after the zone change.
Murphy: stated support for zone change. Noted it would be good for the neighborhood.
Kelley: expressed agreement with Councilor Murphy.
Panitch: stated that DR seems like the right zone for the area.
Lisi: expressed the implicit goal of Planning and Economic Development is to bring residential zoning into the downtown area. Asked Moriarty what a specific structure is.
Moriarty: clarified it to be a concrete retaining wall, along with concrete pad for dumpster.
Lisi: asked if those would stay intact during to transfer.
Moriarty: stated he would defer to the buyer, Marcos Garcia.
Anderson-Burgos: made motion to allow public to speak, seconded by Hernandez. All Ordinance in favor.
Planning moved to allow the public to speak.
Garcia: noted there was a garage many years ago that still shows up on maps. Stated there is a partial retaining wall, and a concrete pad in rough shape. Noted the plan it to create a pad more suitable for a dumpster.
Anderson-Burgos: asked about plan or improvements for the alleyway.
Garcia: stated the alleyway is nuisance due to crowd in area. Stated a part of cleaning it up is to have better lighting and more use of parking.
Anderson-Burgos: expressed appreciation for the plan. Stated he knows the area and supports the plan.
Murphy: made motion to close public hearing, second by Anderson-Burgos. All Ordinance in favor.
Planning voted to close the public hearing.
Lisi: stated that committee would wait on a recommendation from the Planning Board and then be able to act on the recommendation.
Anderson-Burgos: made motion to take items 3, 4, and 6 through 12 as package, seconded by Murphy. All Ordinance members in favor.
Lisi: noted that item 5 was being left off due to a need to give proper notice.
Murphy: made motion to open public hearing, seconded by Anderson-Burgos. All Ordinance members in favor.
Planning Board voted to open the public hearing.
Chairwoman Lisi: stated that the public notice language was created to broadly cover the entire list of marijuana related order, intended to create ease of language and limit noticing costs. Stated intent to limit discussion of land use related issues.
Marrero presented screen: described the “Green Mile” as a cannabis cluster. Noted the advantages to the cannabis industry, observing stable support of the industry within the city, cheap electricity, and available real estate. Discussed need to clarify ordinance to allow for round the clock manufacturing, noting the original intent was to limit public access to retail establishments. Noted a need to create a school buffer zone distinction for grow operations versus retail. Stated that most grow companies will not sell plant material. Suggested allowing manufacturing in Industrial Park (IP) property. Also suggested expanding retail opportunities in high traffic destinations. Noted that city cannot impede delivery from out of city companies, only Holyoke-based companies, noting that this would create a disadvantage to Holyoke companies. Also suggested that courier-only companies not be required to submit special permit applications. Observed there to be conflicts between agencies in regulating social consumption and suggested not taking that on until there is more clear guidance from the state.
Chairwoman Lisi: clarified points of discussion that relate to specific order on the agenda. Added that item 10 was requested by Councilor Bartley to give leave to withdraw. Also noted that items 11 and 12, items related to social consumption, would also be given leave to withdraw. Observed that State Representative Aaron Vega is in attendance to speak on the items.
Rep. Vega: noted that the last conversations with the state had been over a year ago, with the potential of having a pilot program. Also suggested that a larger conversation should happen regarding buffer zones.
Chairwoman Lisi: stated she had reached out to those who had submitted applications with the city, with an offer to add to the discussion.
Kelley: noted that there are four key areas to focus on: hours of operation, buffer zones, manufacturing/retail zones, and delivery. Observed that Planning had many site plans reviews to work on.
Mimi Panitch: expressed agreement with suggestions from Marrero. Suggested consolidating suggestions and noted a need to avoid Holyoke losing first mover advantage.
Chairwoman Lisi asked for a clarification: is the suggestion to separate items that don’t require Planning recommendation.
Panitch: Stated that many items need recommendations and that some items not requiring it shouldn’t be held up.
Eileen Regan: expressed support for recommendations. Also noted that the process had advanced from a more restrictive one in years past. Observed the strong potential for economic benefits to the city.
Kate Kruckemeyer: suggested considering that Planning might be the more appropriate special permit granting authority for this process, as opposed to the Ordinance Committee.
Chaiwoman Lisi: Noted that item 4 covers that point, adding that Holyoke did already miss out on initial retail opportunities resulting in loss of revenue streams and tax dollars.
Kruckemeyer: suggested that Planning can ask applicants to work to increase visuals for better integration into neighborhoods and make other suggestions if Planning was seen as having more authority.
Kelley: observed that some applications had been incomplete and challenging.
Chairwoman Lisi: noted that City Council doesn’t tend to have technical expertise for thorough reviews, adding that Planning often provides the necessary overview and that requiring City Council approval creates an additional unnecessary step.
Panitch: noted the Planning has much of the expertise needed.
Chairwoman Lisi: described process for members of the public to be acknowledged to speak.
Helen Gomez Andrews: stated that limiting retail hours to 8pm hinders business, adding many surrounding communities allow businesses to be open later.
Karen Talton: Stated that as a cultivator, the permit process was lengthy. Suggested a cannabis committee be formed to help people navigate the process, and that there be more community involvement. Also stated concern about security issues with manufacturing being open 24 hours, along with additional concerns regarding locations in neighborhoods.
Councilor Hernandez: asked Talton to clarify involvement in community.
Talton: stated that the industry is making a lot of money and should reinvest in community.
Councilor Hernandez: appreciated hearing desire for a better relationship between the cannabis industry and the community.
Talton: noted a plan to open a community resource center. Stated that is room for more education and jobs related to the industry.
Damaris Aponte: stated her plan to open a delivery business. Stated desire to keep business in Holyoke, adding agreement with pushing the cannabis industry to be more involved in the Holyoke community.
Frank Daly: stated he appreciated the discussion around cannabis community getting involved. Doesn’t see a need to delay moving on social consumption with a concern that Holyoke could lose out of neighboring towns. Noted that some towns had held referendums on social consumption.
Chairwoman Lisi: noted she would look into referendum language from other communities.
Cleon Byron: stated desire to get involved in Holyoke community.
Morris Partee: co-founder of Emerald River. State he offers services on understanding the regulations. Questioned characterization from Marrero that deliveries would be like Amazon. Stated he believes Holyoke needs to be first mover on deliveries. Observed the need for more work on zoning that allows cannabis in retail areas. Noted that his first store will be in Lewiston, Maine, which was a more welcoming community, but still wants to build in Holyoke. Also added on delivery rules, cities that allows retail are open to be delivered to.
Ruben Seyde: stated an interest in opening a delivery business out of Holyoke. Expressed support for proposal. Appreciated idea of industry being more integrated into the community.
Marrero: clarified that he didn’t intend to offer value judgments by comparing to Amazon. Meant in terms of land use, noting that product is housed on site, making it subject to special permit. Contrasted with smaller delivery companies that only come into contact at already permitted sites. Also cautioned against allowing in DR zone. Stated concern about displacing residents.
Chairwoman Lisi: questioned intent to keep open public hearing for all, some, or none of the items.
Councilor Murphy: suggested keeping public hearing open. Asked for zoning map of recommendations from Marrero. Stated concern about too many retail.
Chairwoman Lisi: suggested items that should be
Councilor Murphy: made a motion to close the public hearing for items 10, 11, and 12, and also continue the public hearing for items 3, 4, and 6 through 9, seconded by Councilor Hernandez. All members voted in favor.
Chairwoman Lisi: asked Planning Board for good date to meet again.
After some discussion, it was decided that February 9th was the best date to meet again.
Kelley: made motion for Planning to continue public hearing to February 9th at 6:30pm, seconded by Panitch.
Vacon: asked for Marrero to send documents to committee.
Marrero: clarified that documents had been sent.
McGiverin: noted that public hearing closed on 10 through 12 but can’t be voted on until a Planning Board recommendation has been made.
Sharon: noted having the documents.
Chairwoman Lisi noted they would stay in jacket until next time.
Panitch: noted that Planning hearing is closed and
Chairwoman Lisi: asked for guidance on acting on item 5.
Councilor McGiverin: stated it would stay in jacket until it’s acted on.
Councilor Murphy: made a motion to adjourn. Chairwoman Lisi seconded. All voted in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 8:26pm.