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Ordinance Committee Meeting June 22, 2021

Jun 22 2021

6:30 pm City Hall Holyoke

536 Dwight St, Holyoke 01040

City Council

Holyoke Massachusetts

 

Notice of Committee Meeting

There will be a regular meeting of the committee on

Ordinance

 

On Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Meeting to take place at Holyoke City Hall, 536 Dwight St

and can be accessed remotely on Zoom Meetings

Per order of the Chair: Rebecca Lisi

*** Meeting can be accessed remotely via www.zoom.us

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88392485657?pwd=QTE0NllEUnVtN0NVSEJiTDhnZmlaUT09

Meeting ID: 883 9248 5657 Meeting Passcode: 013164 or by call in at 1 (646) 558-8656 with same Meeting ID and Passcode.  ***

 

Agenda:

Item 1: PUBLIC HEARING 5-4-21 Special Permit Application for Rise Holdings, Inc for a Marijuana Manufacturing Establishment (MME) at 100 Water St to site and operate an MME in existing buildings 3, 4, and 5.

Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING 5-4-21 Amendment to Special Permit Application of Rise Holdings, Inc for a Marijuana Manufacturing Establishment (MME) at 28 Appleton St for expansion of the MME in the existing building.

Item 3: 4-6-21 MURPHY, LISI -- Ordered that the city council consider adopting a wage theft ordinance for all contractors doing projects for the city or receiving special tax incentives by the city similar to Easthampton and Springfield with the following purposes: prevent misclassification of employees as independent contractors; assure that employees are paying all payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums; comply with state laws governing the payment of prevailing wages; assure that contractors provide opportunities for Holyoke residents, veterans, people of color and women.
*Tabled 5-25-21

Item 4: 2-16-21 HERNANDEZ -- Ordered, that That no parking on the S shape curve turn on O'Connor Ave.

Item 5: 3-16-21 BARTLEY -- DPW install a stop sign at the end of Ridgeway St. where it meets Lorraine St.

Item 6: 5-18-21 LEBRON-MARTINEZ -- Ordered, that That city council thru the appropriate committee consider a drop & pick up for 2 parking spots for the van that will pick & drop off the participants that attend the Vcare Adult at the addresses 200-210 High Street This program serve a population of 60 and older and is necessary to assure their safety. Enclosed letter of company request.

Item 7: 3-16-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that Order that the city of Holyoke bar large vehicles from the following public ways:
a.         Hillside Avenue
b.         Queen Street
c.         Hitchcock Street
d.         Michigan Avenue
e.         Edbert Drive
f.          Memorial Drive
g.         Moss Avenue
h.         Sheehan Drive
i.          Arden Street
j.          Lorraine Street
k.         Fenton Street
l.          Nichols Drive
m.        Fairmont Street
n.         Fairview Street

Item 8: 4-6-21 Petition for Speed hump at Argyle Ave.

Item 9: 12-1-20 Petition from residents on Michigan Ave. for speed bumps

Item 10: 12-3-19 TALLMAN, LEAHY, MCGEE -- That the DPW install truck exclusion signs at both ends of Bemis Rd.

Item 11: 5-18-21 HERNANDEZ -- That a handicap sign be removed from the front of 143 Oak St.

Item 12: 5-18-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that The Dpw and Disabilities Commission remove the Handicap parking sign in front of 7 Russell Terrace. The house is vacant and there is no need for handicap parking.

 

Administrative Assistant: Jeffery Anderson-Burgos

The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. Also one or two items may require the committee to enter into executive session at this meeting. Agenda subject to change up to two business days (48 hours) prior to posted meeting time.

Ordinance Committee

June 22, 2021

 

Members present: Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi, Vice Chairman Juan Anderson-Burgos, Linda Vacon, Terence Murphy, Libby Hernandez

Other councilors present: David Bartley, James Leahy, Joseph McGiverin

 

Chairwoman Lisi called the meeting to order at 6:33 PM.

 

Councilor Vacon made a motion to take item 1 off the table and open the public hearing. Councilor Anderson-Burgos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 1: PUBLIC HEARING 5-4-21 Special Permit Application for Rise Holdings, Inc for a Marijuana Manufacturing Establishment (MME) at 100 Water St to site and operate an MME in existing buildings 3, 4, and 5.

---> Approved 5-0 with conditions

DISCUSSION:

Thomas Reidy, representing the applicant, introduced those attending for the applicant. He noted they were Adam Robbins with GTI, the parent company of Rise, Carlos Nieto from Berkshire Design, Chris Farley from Kuhn Riddle Architects, as well as John Dejter and Erik Merrigan from GTI.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if someone from the team was prepared to walk the committee through the design.

T. Reidy stated he would provide an overview, followed up a presentation from Mr. Nieto and Mr. Farley. Stated the location was 100 Water St as well as close proximity to Appleton St. Stated they were planning a marijuana manufacturing establishment (MME) at buildings 3, 4, and 5 totaling 150,000 square feet. Noted that Rise had been the city’s first marijuana establishment located at 28 Appleton St. Noted they had contributed over $1.5 million through host community agreements, adding that they liked the partnership with the city. Stated that the project would create 30-50 good paying jobs initially with the potential of over 150 jobs, starting at $16 an hour plus benefits.

C. Nieto shared his screen to showing an overview of the site. He noted that the site included buildings 1 through 5, adding that the presentation would reference buildings 3 through 5. He noted that the buildings were surrounded by the Connecticut River, railroad tracks and Old Canal At, as well as Appleton St. He noted the loading dock area, a courtyard as the main access to the building, as well as fire access and a retaining wall. He stated that the proposed changes would be minimal, noting they would be eliminating 3 of the 5 existing loading docks and leaving 2 at the corner. He stated a large paved area would be undergoing a conversion to a striped parking area to provide a total of 52 parking spaces, and that there would be several improvements to increase ADA access as well as adding security lighting. He also noted the shifting of egresses and the addition of new ones.

C. Nieto stated they had not proposed any repaving of the site, adding that it would be line striping and concrete pads. He also highlights the type of enclosure they would be installing for dumpsters. He stated that there was a plan to add bike racks.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if there would be material improvements inside the building.

C. Nieto stated there would be, which would be presented by Chris Farley. He also noted the styles and locations of new LED lighting and lighting fixtures that would be a part of the light plan.

C. Farley shared his screen showing the plan of the 3 buildings, describing the outline of the 3 different buildings. He stated that building 5 would be 1 story, to be used for cultivation, with flower rooms, edge rooms, mother and clone potting rooms, dry rooms, locker rooms, and a fertigation area. He noted the existing entrance would become an emergency egress only. He then described the new main entry into building 3 off of the courtyard, utilizing a ramp as well as a set of stairs, as well as office areas and conference rooms. He stated that buildings 3 and 4 would be 4 story buildings, which had been old mill buildings. He stated that a majority of building 3 would be welfare space: breaks rooms, offices, locker rooms, conference. He then stated that building would mainly be production space. He then described various storage spaces for non-secure storage, supplies and packaging, temperature controlled storage areas, and nutrient storage space. He then described the main entry level which included a secure sally port area for deliveries, as well as a delivery area for non-secure deliveries. He then described a secured receiving and loading areas, order fulfillment, packaging, labs, and trimming areas.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if Rise owned buildings 1 and 2.

T. Reidy stated that Rise had all buildings and land under contract to purchase, clarifying that were only seeking approval for buildings 3 through 5.

Chairwoman Lisi in noting there had been discussion of non-secure storage areas, asked if the fertilizer would be secure.

T. Reidy clarified that designating secure areas was based on the storage of cannabis and cannabis products according to the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC).

A. Robbins stated that security was based on bringing product from the outside to the inside, adding that the entire facility would be secure with access controlled doors, cameras, and systems. He reiterated that secure designations were in relation to brining outbound finished cannabis goods out of the facility into the delivery vehicles.

Councilor Vacon asked for verification that access roads going around the building would be adequate for fire apparatuses with the new egresses being built.

C. Farley explained the westerly paved access had currently been 20 feet wide, adding that with 5 feet of egress access, the remaining 15 feet width would still be adequate for emergency vehicles. He added that the in reference to an access gravel road around the back, there was an existing stair being removed and that the new stairs would not protrude further from the building.

C. Nieto stated that the area to the west of the paved drive was also open and graded, providing more space.

Councilor Murphy asked if there would be access for employees to get from building 3 to either buildings 1 or 2.

C. Nieto confirmed there would not be.

Councilor Murphy asked if there were plans for buildings 1 and 2.

T. Reidy stated the plan was to secure both buildings, adding that with a rapidly evolving industry, the space would allow the company to evolve with the changes in the market.

Councilor Murphy noted that an employee making $16 an hour would make around $33,000, which would not be enough for someone to support a family. He noted that their location across the street had been open for a few years and asked how wages had increased for those employees.

A. Robbins stated that while he did not have that information, he noted that $16 was a starting wage without including benefits, adding that it could increase with advancement within the organization. He then stated he could work to get that information.

Councilor Murphy noted his goal was to assure someone working a full time job could support a family. In noting that the plan was to start at 50 full time jobs, he asked if that figure was based on labor costs or based on needs of the business.

T. Reidy stated it was a function of the demand for what would be needed at the site, adding that it would ramp up over time. He then stated that GTI was a multistate operator with vertical opportunity within the company. He stated that it was not the type of company where an employee would be stuck in the same role without an opportunity for advancement. He stated that Rise had around 32% of its employees coming from Holyoke, with an intent to increase that number.

A. Robbins stated that the company had around 2,500 employees throughout the country. He then clarified that not every employee would start at $16 an hour, adding that they would be looking to hire people with higher level degrees such as agricultural or chemistry.

Councilor Murphy asked how many of the Holyoke residents had been hired in the higher salary ranges.

T. Reidy stated they could follow up to provide that information.

Councilor Vacon asked if the striping of the existing paved area to create 52 parking spaces resulted in more or fewer spaces.

T. Reidy stated that the striping would make the space more organized form, likely resulting in more spaces. He then added that in eliminating overhead doors, there were new spaces that would previously have been in a travel area.

Councilor Vacon noted that projects of this nature historically have run into parking shortages, adding that they appeared to fine while in their startup phase.

T. Reidy stated they would continue to pay attention to the concern, adding that hiring good employees requires having parking. He then stated that the proposed space appeared to be sufficient for their needs. He then noted that with potential future expansion, they were already looking at what they could do.

Councilor Vacon asked if they would discuss traffic questions raised by the City Engineer, noting that one suggested condition was relative to mitigation of traffic concerns.

T. Reidy commended the City Engineer for his work. He noted the condition was not definitive because there would need to work to identify issues and develop solutions for traffic issues in the future.

Councilor Bartley asked how many the current facility had and how many would be employed at the proposed facility.

T. Reidy stated that the existing facility had 88 employees, with a plan to add 12. He then stated that the proposed facility would start with 30-50, with a plan to move some of the existing employees to the new facility to utilize to their training and knowledge. Then then stated that over the next 3 years, they would plan to add new employees.

Councilor Bartley asked how many Holyoke residents were among their current employees.

T. Reidy stated it was about 32%.

A. Robbins stated that it was about 28 employees of the 88.

Councilor Bartley stated he was glad to hear that. He then asked about their efforts to utilize public transportation, including any efforts to petition the PVTA for more routes, stops, or buses.

T. Reidy stated that they had not sought those types of measures, noting that additional routes or stops would require the kind of demand they may not meet at the time. He then added that part of the incentive to hire more Holyoke residents was due to a shorter commute in general as well as on public transportation.

Councilor Bartley asked Councilor Murphy, in his capacity as Acting Mayor, if he had attended any PVTA meetings.

Councilor Murphy stated he had not but gets notes, adding that someone from Planning does attend regularly as a surrogate.

Councilor Bartley asked for details on the site control with the current owners, Hampden Papers.

T. Reidy noted that their contract had many standard contingencies, among them being closed end date with Hampden Papers to acquire the entirety of the site.

Councilor Bartley asked for the potential closing date.

T. Reidy stated the plan was likely in the fall.

A. Robbins confirmed that was accurate, as soon as they could close up items such as permitting.

Councilor Bartley stated he believed that the assessed value was around $1 million. He then asked if the sale price would meet or exceed the assessed value.\

T. Reidy noted that he would need to respect confidentially provisions of their agreement, adding that Rise would be looking to increase the tax base.

Councilor Bartley stated that upon brief research, the total value was $1.05 million for a property built around 1935 and was a couple acres. He then asked where they expected to see the trajectory for the industry in Holyoke in the next 5+ years.

T. Reidy stated that this discussion fit well with GTI’s long term plans. He also noted that the previous OPED Director, Marcos Marrero, identified early on that Holyoke had many suitable buildings for revitalization, and that Holyoke had seized on the opportunity. He noted that the City has been a good partner for the industry and had developed a predictable environment for the industry.

Councilor Bartley noted that it had been the City Council had identified the IG zone as the preferred zone, which then led to Mr. Marrero working with the industry to develop their operations within the zone.

Councilor Hernandez commended GTI for their work to bring jobs into the city. She then asked if there would be space for bike racks, either exterior or interior.

T. Reidy stated they would be proposing bike racks on the exterior, adding that the unprogrammed space inside could be considered for bike racks in the future.

Chairwoman Lisi invited members of the public to be recognized, with no responses.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that Planning saw it as a complete application and that initial concerns had been addressed satisfactorily. She then noted they recommended two conditions, which had been reviewed and agreed to, describing them as relating to sidewalks and walkways, as well as addressed proposed changes in the future. She then noted that the Engineer proposed an additional condition. She then read the complete list of conditions into the record:
1. That the owner of the building always pay the commercial property tax rate to the extend allowed by federal, state, and local laws for the duration of the Special Permit.
2. That the business retains a minimum 30% Holyoke residents for non-security jobs.
3. That the hiring preference be given to security personnel that are retired Holyoke police or are a retired member of another police department that now lives in the city of Holyoke.
4. There shall be no marijuana consumption allowed on site.
5. That the hours of operation be set according to City ordinances.
6. Sidewalks, walkways, and ramps must all comply with Massachusetts accessibility codes (521 CMR).
7. In the event there are any proposed changes to the approved Plan(s), prior to their implementation, the Applicant will be required to come back to the City Council for review and approval and file as an amendment to the Special Permit.
8. Should the operation of the project cause traffic issues, the Applicant will work with the City to determine how to mitigate those issues and implement a mitigation plan.

The applicant offered no objections to the conditions.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to close the public hearing. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor Vacon made a motion to approve the special permit with conditions. Councilor Hernandez seconded the motion. All members voted in favor. 5-0

 

(1:01:50)

Councilor Vacon made a motion to take item 2 off the table and open the public hearing. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING 5-4-21 Amendment to Special Permit Application of Rise Holdings, Inc for a Marijuana Manufacturing Establishment (MME) at 28 Appleton St for expansion of the MME in the existing building.

---> Approved 5-0 with conditions

DISCUSSION:

T. Reidy noted that the original permit for the 2nd floor of 28 Appleton St for medical cultivation was approved in 2017, which had been followed by an amendment for adult use in 2018. He added that the new amendment was to expand to the 1st floor for canning, pre-rolled cannabis products, as well as additional welfare space. He stated they would be adding 12 employees for the space. He clarified that nothing would change for the 2nd floor space. He then shared his screen for highlighting where the expansion would be, noting the locations of canning operations, package product storage space, and the wellness space. He also stated that there would be additional office space for employees arriving from out of state locations.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if the expansion was largely related to the welfare space.

T. Reidy clarified that the expansion was largely for the canning operation of cannabis infused beverages, noting it would be the next step of expansion in the industry.

Chairwoman Lisi asked to clarify that the building was still owned by Mr. Cutting and that the expansion included minimal exterior changes.

T. Reidy clarified that Mark Cutting owned it through a realty trust, adding that it was an amendment to the existing lease.

Councilor Vacon, in noting City Engineer comments on 3 additional parking spaces, asked if parking at the 100 Water St location could be used for this location.

T. Reidy stated they sought to keep the two projects separate, adding his expectation that employees should be able to find the 3 spaces. He also stated that they were not seeking to modify an existing agreement with the City relative to the public parking lot. He followed up by stating that practically, employees could use spaces at 100 Water, but that they would not seek to include it as a condition as linking the two could make things more difficult.

Councilor Vacon noted as a practical matter, it could logistically occur as an operational matter.

Councilor Bartley asked for more details on the canning operations, specifically how it would be produced, marketed, and sold.

T. Reidy reiterated that cannabis infused beverages would be a part of the next wave of products. He stated that it would essentially be a cannabis infused carbonated tonic. He added that products such as the CANN brand, mixed with THC and CDB, and would be sold at dispensaries. He stated that the product would more of a social drink for those who would prefer not to ingest the product through methods such as smoking or edibles. He added that in contrast to feeling effects in a couple hours for edibles, effects from beverages could be felt within 10-20 minutes.

Councilor Bartley asked to clarify that the manufacturing would happen at this site.

T. Reify confirmed that it would. He added that they would take the cannabis from upstairs, distill it into an oil, and then infuse it into the beverage for canning.

Councilor Bartley asked if the petitioner had an obligation to verify site control approval.

T. Reidy noted that the zoning ordinance required provided evidence of site control, adding that they provided the 3rd amendment to the lease outlining the expanded premises. He then noted that they have letters showing the owner’s approval of the expansion and of the special permit.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if CANN brand name products would be produced out of this facility.

T. Reidy stated that GTI had a license agreement with CANN to produce out of this facility.

Chairwoman Lisi invited members of the public to speak, with no response.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that Planning comments had all been satisfied. She then read the list of conditions into the record, including two from Planning and one from the City Engineer:
1. That the owner of the building always pay the commercial property tax rate to the extend allowed by federal, state, and local laws for the duration of the Special Permit.
2. That the business retains a minimum 30% Holyoke residents for non-security jobs.
3. That the hiring preference be given to security personnel that are retired Holyoke police or are a retired member of another police department that now lives in the city of Holyoke.
4. There shall be no marijuana consumption allowed on site.
5. That the hours of operation be set according to City ordinances.
6. Sidewalks, walkways, and ramps must all comply with Massachusetts accessibility codes (521 CMR).
7. In the event there are any proposed changes to the approved Plan(s), prior to their implementation, the Applicant will be required to come back to the City Council for review and approval and file as an amendment to the Special Permit.
8. any permit approval be conditioned on providing the DPW with detailed design drawings for the production and storage areas and associated drain piping so that chemical containment and compatibility issues can be further reviewed prior to the start of construction. Pretreatment and/or containment and offsite disposal of liquid wastes may be required.

The applicant offered no objections to the conditions.

Councilor Vacon made a motion to close the public hearing. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to approve the amendment to the special permit with conditions. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor. 5-0.

 

(1:19:40)

Councilor Vacon made a motion to take item 3 off the table. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 3: 4-6-21 MURPHY, LISI -- Ordered that the city council consider adopting a wage theft ordinance for all contractors doing projects for the city or receiving special tax incentives by the city similar to Easthampton and Springfield with the following purposes: prevent misclassification of employees as independent contractors; assure that employees employers are paying all payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums; comply with state laws governing the payment of prevailing wages; assure that contractors provide opportunities for Holyoke residents, veterans, people of color and women.
*Tabled 5-25-21

---> Laid on the table.

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Murphy noted a minor correction to the order to clarify that it should be employers paying payroll taxes rather than employees. He then stated the goal was to level the playing field to assure that those applying for contracts or tax incentives deal with the same situation as anyone else, and to assure that those doing the work are granted all legal protections they should be. He also stated that contractors who violate labor laws should be prohibited form getting new contracts or receiving tax incentives.

Chairwoman Lisi stated that the order had been tabled before to give time for the committee to review the legal language.

Councilor Vacon asked for a clarification that the language would be inclusive of all employees and that there would not be carveouts for certain groups. She also asked that if a contractor is an independent contractor, they could present themselves in the market as such.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that was correct as long as they were following all procedures. He then noted there was a recent case with the Attorney General, adding that those situations where an employee is taken advantage of should not be a part of the bidding process or not part of a contract with a contractor.

Chairwoman Lisi recognized Ms. Clauson and Mr. Payne from Carpenters Union Local 336. She noted that a draft had been requested to remove whereas statements.

L. Clauson stated a draft should have been made available with the requested updates. She then offered a hard copy for the Admin Asst to make copies of.

Councilor Vacon stated her intent that assure that when the ordinance is created, all employee are included.

Chairwoman Lisi sought to assure that a member of the Law Department was attending.

Atty Jenna Wellhoff confirmed she was in attendance.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if Atty Wellhoff was in receipt of the wage theft ordinance draft the committee would be working with.

Councilor Murphy stated that a draft had been sent that was specific to Holyoke. He then noted that the language was to assure contractors maintain insurance, properly classify employees rather than as independent contractors, and treat them properly for the purposes of paying prevailing wages, overtime, worker’s compensation, unemployment, and should comply with Mass General Laws. He also stated the language stipulates they should not discriminate against residents of other states but give preference to residents of Holyoke.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified for Atty Wellhoff which draft she should be looking for.

Councilor Vacon asked if they would be defining people in terms of groups of people or in terms of employees of the contractor.

Chairwoman Lisi stated that the only groups defined would be Holyoke residents as well as veterans.

Councilor Murphy noted that some contractors did not define employees as such but as independent contractors and did not pay them properly. He then stated that the goal was to assure that all people under a contract would be defined as employees. He recalled that some employees of contractors had been taken advantage of for lack of legal knowledge and had not been paid what was expected after completing a job.

Councilor Vacon asked if the concern was specific to Holyoke residents as they are the only employees an ordinance could speak to or if it would be anyone working in Holyoke.

Councilor Murphy stated it would apply to anyone getting a contract with the city or anyone seeking tax relief with the city.

Councilor Vacon stated it should be all of their employees regardless of where they lived.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that it should be. He then clarified that if a contractor violated the terms, they would be prohibited from contracts with the city.

Atty Wellhoff stated she had an older version of the document and would need the updated one.

Admin Asst Councilor Anderson-Burgos stated he would email her a copy.

Councilor Hernandez asked to assure that the language shared on screen was the current draft.

Councilor Murphy stated he would defer to Ms. Clauson and Mr. Payne, and then reiterated that his goal was to assure that if contractors violate the laws, they would not be eligible for city contracts or tax relief for five years.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to allow Lisa Clauson and Charlie Payne to address the committee. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

C. Payne, 14 Pajak St, Chicopee, stated that the ordinance was to avoid incentivizing cheaters and to protect workers. He then stated that the ordinance protect workers are assure contractors and developers are following existing laws. He noted that the problem is pervasive. He added that constructive is one of the worst industries but that it happens in every industry, noting that it often happens to restaurant and retail workers. He stated that many victims are misclassified employees, adding that a legitimate independent contractor should have worker’s comp and liability insurance. He noted that in some instances, employees are working with the employer to make cash on a prevailing wage job while collecting unemployment, undermining fair contractors. He noted there was language referring to veterans and people of color as they are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to being taken advantage of. He then stated that Holyoke residents could be given priority, opening up opportunity for people to move into the middle class. He clarified that the ordinance cannot violate federal laws by preventing an out of state contractor from bringing their own employees.

L. Clauson, 35 Harrison Ave, Northampton, stated the ordinance had been modeled on other communities that had passed similar ordinances. She then stated that the ordinance affects everyone, adding that there was a definitions section that specified Holyoke residents, veterans, etc. She noted that section 2 provided language to be included in any contract the city enters into with contractors. She clarified that state law already existed and that the ordinance would not be setting any precedent, adding that the ordinance would put any contractors on notice that these would be the laws they would need to follow. She then specified the provision referring to preference for Holyoke residents, noting it was about assuring contractor make a good faith effort to hire Holyoke residents. She then referred to a provision to meet diversity goals equal to those of the state of Massachusetts, as well as striving to hire veterans. She noted additional provisions relate to bidding, meeting health requirements, and stipulating the municipal office the information would be provided to. She clarified that this would be a part of the public record. She then referred to a section that laid out similar provision, but specific to the city giving out tax relief to developers. She stated the end section stipulated what would result if wage theft was discovered, such as the city petitioning to take back some of the tax relief. She stated the Attorney General’s office handles compliance of investigating wage theft, adding that they have limited capacity to go after cases.

C. Payne observed that 1 out of 4 cases referred to the Attorney General’s office are investigated. He then stated the ones that result in the most feedback are those with prevailing public work with certified payrolls and records.

Chairwoman Lisi asked what department the record keeper of claims should be.

Councilor Murphy suggested the Purchasing Department should be, noting they would have the records of the contracts the city enters into. He added they would not be an investigative party. He then stated they would likely bring complaints to the Mayor or the City Council.

Chairwoman Lisi asked what the process would be if there was a complaint.

L. Clauson stated the complaint would be handled by the Attorney General or by an appropriate state department, adding that it would not be expected that the city would be investigating complaints. She then stated that the city could choose to hold a hearing to look into the issue. She noted that there was a provision that complaints concerning compliance would be submitted to the municipal office responsible for project compliance.

Councilor Vacon noted an irony that the committee would consider an ordinance suggesting preference for Holyoke residents at a time when residency requirements for some positions are being eliminated. She then questioned the contradiction that the city would ask private businesses to hire from Holyoke if the city itself would not be required to do so. She also noted there had been legal advice stating that Holyoke residents can only be give preference if their qualifications are equal to that of those from other communities, adding that the language of the proposed wage theft ordinance did not have the same provision. She suggested this may be a violation of the law and suggested substituting the word “shall” with “encourage.” She also expressed concern that a contractor would be required to adhere to the same diversity goals of an entire state, adding that it could limit the pool of contractors and increase costs to the city. She noted that many ordinances are not enforced, adding that any new ordinance passed needs to be enforceable. She suggested that the City Clerk’s office, as the holder of records, should be the department that filings would go to.

Councilor Murphy stated his goal was to get a wage theft ordinance to prevent contractors that would cheat from bidding on and receiving contracts, adding that he would be open to removing provisions on preferences in order to accomplish that goal. He then stated that his suggestion that filings go to the Purchasing Department was based on the fact that bids go through that department. He then clarified that it would not be their role to investigate complaints.

Councilor Vacon expressed a need for caution that any ordinance implemented would need to be doable. She then questioned who would have the time to assure complaints are followed up on.

Chairwoman Lisi stated for clarity that the requirement is to receive the documents, not to review them, so that they are available for the use of the Attorney General’s office.

Councilor Vacon noted that the requirement would mean that 50 contractors, as an example, would be sending in 50 weekly payroll submissions.

L. Clauson noted that is done already for purposes of prevailing wage requirements, adding that it would not be a new paperwork requirement with the city.

C. Payne stated that most municipalities have the Clerk as the keeper of records.

Councilor Vacon asked if the Clerk may already have the records.

L. Clauson stated that it is usually electronic records. She then added that the value provides the tools for organizations to review the records if complaints are brought forward.

Councilor Hernandez suggested the language could be modified to state that Holyoke residents are preferred, noting that it may be difficult to fill vacancies from within in the city.  She then asked what the enforcement process would be if a contractor working with the city was caught conducting wage theft in order to stop them from continuing the abuse.

L. Clauson stated that the document covers construction contracts. She then stated that through the ordinance, contractors would have to sign an affidavit confirming they had not had an upheld finding against them in the last five years. She noted that some municipalities tie wage theft ordinance to business licenses, including when they come up for renewal, adding that the current ordinance proposal would not do that.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos stated there were concerns and unanswered questions yet to be addressed, and there appeared to be a need for more time to continue looking into the issue.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to table. Councilor Hernandez seconded the motion. 3-2 in favor.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested a need a reconsider in order to discuss what the next course of action would be before tabling the item.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to reconsider the action. Councilor Hernandez seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Chairwoman Lisi stated a need to consider if the keeper of records would be the Purchasing Department or the City Clerk.

Councilor Murphy suggested brining those departments in to discuss where those records would be kept. He then suggested prioritizing wage theft as the major goal over articulating preferences to assure all contractors are following the same standards. He also observed having received a call from the Attorney General’s office that day, noting they would be in contact if there are complaints.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested the language to give preference mirrors the language in the conditions for marijuana special permits, adding that she did not see a difference in approving that language and laying out similar language in the wage theft ordinance. She also questioned the implication that costs could be driven up by stipulating preferences, adding that it would state Holyoke residents must be hired. She also suggested that the state cannot meet its diversity goals with municipalities doing their part. She then noted that the penalties would be based on a finding rather than just a complaint. She asked Atty Wellhoff if she could have a draft legal form ready to review the next time the order is taken up.

Councilor Vacon noted that while most of the document references law, a provision requiring submission of documents providing demographic information of employees does not. She then asked if it could be stated the same way.

L. Clauson stated that the provision has to do with meeting the state’s diversity goals with regard to construction contracts. She noted that certified payrolls did not currently tabulate the same demographic distinctions.

Councilor Vacon noted it appeared that it would create an additional reporting requirement.

Atty Wellhoff asked for a clarification of the request to the Law Department.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested it could be reviewed at committee’s next meeting on June 29th, adding that the need would be to convert the language so that it is formatted properly as an ordinance.

Councilor Vacon suggested the committee should finalize language recommendations before asking the Law Department to draft the ordinance.

Councilor Murphy suggested there could be additional time to review the language at a meeting in July prior to the full City Council voting on it in August.

Chairwoman Lisi stated that there may not be time at the July meeting, adding that it may need to be pushed to September.

Councilor Murphy stated that if it is not voted on until September, that would still be progress in the right direction.

Councilor Bartley asked Ms. Clauson and Mr. Payne who they represent.

C. Payne stated he represents the Carpenter’s Union.

Councilor Bartley asked he had investigatory or enforcement powers.

C. Payne stated he did not. He then stated he uses the Freedom of Information Act to request information and helps people file complaints with the Attorney General.

Councilor Bartley noted that Mr. Payne serves as advocate. He then noted that the document was presented by a union advocate and that a fair perspective should include discussing the matter with advocates on the other side of the issue. He suggested finding an organization on the employee contractor side to discuss the provisions the industry could support and provisions that may discourage contractors from doing business with Holyoke. He then asked if a debarment or suspension list existed and was a public record.

C. Payne confirmed that it was.

Councilor Bartley stated that if the ordinance were passed, the language in procurement contracts should be clear that any contractors bidding should be able to verify that they have not faced debarment or suspensions within the last five years. He then asked for clarification of language which states that the contractor must be in compliance with the health and hospitalization requirements of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform law.

L. Clauson clarified it is the state law that requires employers over a certain size to provide health insurance.

Councilor Bartley suggested that anyone in the industry would already know about this law. He then stated that the electronic filing requirement made sense. He recalled concerns with giving multiyear tax breaks to businesses, adding that he appreciated the language preventing businesses from getting tax relief if they violate the wage theft ordinance. He suggested there should be enforcement power at the local level instead of having to seek enforcement from the Attorney General.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to lay on the table. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:22:00)

Chairwoman Lisi noted that the remainder of the agenda were traffic related items, adding that there was a review report provided by the City Engineer.

Councilor Hernandez made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take items 4 through 8 as a package. Councilor Anderson-Burgos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 4: 2-16-21 HERNANDEZ -- Ordered, that That no parking on the S shape curve turn on O'Connor Ave.

---> Approved 5-0, per the recommendation of the Engineer

DISCUSSION:

Bob Peirent, City Engineer, stated that matter had been discussed in the Public Safety Committee in February, adding that there were recommendations to restrict parking on the S-curve. He noted that the Fire Department suggested it would be necessary in order to get their ladder truck around the curve. He then stated the next step would be to bring it before the Ordinance Committee. He noted 3-4 parking spaces would be lost on the outside of the curve as well as 2-3 spaces on the inside of the curve.

Councilor Hernandez stated it had been a concern among the residents in the area that emergency vehicles would not be able to get through, adding that they have to reverse creating an additional safety issue. She noted that even with limited parking, the priority would need to be assuring that emergency vehicles reach their destination.

Councilor Bartley noted that while public safety will outweigh citizen concerns, it is a tight street with almost no parking. He then suggested the Fire Department should be asked if their vehicles could go in the other way.

Councilor Hernandez noted someone in the area had been given a permit to add a driveway, freeing up some parking. She recognized the change would be a burden but reiterated that public safety needed to be the priority. She then questioned if vehicles could enter the other way as it may be a one way street. She suggested it would be worse if there was an emergency and the Fire Department could not access a property.

B. Peirent clarified that O’Connor was a two way street, potentially making it a bigger problem because of vehicles parked on both sides.

Councilor Murphy asked if it would help to line parking spaces to avoid having people taking up more space.

B. Peirent stated that he did not believe that would make a difference. He then noted that when a vehicle is parked at the midpoint of the curve, it sticks out into the street.

Councilor Murphy stated his point was to consider painting lines on the rest of the street.

B. Peirent noted that he had not analyzed the street to see if people efficiently use the space.

Councilor Vacon expressed support, adding that if the change creates if the downside outweighs the benefit, the residents would make the councilors aware. She then noted that it would not be a difficult change to undo.

Councilor Hernandez made a motion to approve the placement of a no parking restriction, per the recommendation of the Engineer. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:34:20)

Item 5: 3-16-21 BARTLEY -- DPW install a stop sign at the end of Ridgeway St. where it meets Lorraine St.

---> Approved 5-0, according to the Engineer’s recommendation.

DISCUSSION:

B. Peirent stated that normally on a stop sign request, he would seek to review accident reports at the intersection. He then stated that while he had not received the reports, he observed that all of the cross streets on Lorraine St already have stop signs. He then noted that while Ridgeway is not a cross street, it has the feel of one and the tendency would be to go through the intersection. He offered his recommendation that a stop sign be installed.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to install a stop sign, per the recommendation of the City Engineer. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:36:15)

Item 6: 5-18-21 LEBRON-MARTINEZ -- Ordered, that That city council thru the appropriate committee consider a drop & pick up for 2 parking spots for the van that will pick & drop off the participants that attend the Vcare Adult at the addresses 200-210 High Street This program serve a population of 60 and older and is necessary to assure their safety. Enclosed letter of company request.

---> Laid on the table.

DISCUSSION:

Chairwoman Lisi noted that the report suggested establishing specific days and hours.  She then suggested tabling for the next meeting to allow the maker of the order to get more information from the owners of the location.

Councilor McGiverin asked if the building has its own parking lot.

B. Peirent stated that they do.

Councilor McGiverin asked why they could not use the lot and lose public parking that is used regularly.

B. Peirent stated that he was not making a recommendation, adding that there was lack of clarity as to where the requested spaces are. He then stated he sent an email to VCare for clarification, noting that the request letter referred to High and Maple - two streets that do not intersect.

Councilor McGiverin suggested the committee wait before making a decision.

Chairwoman Lisi reiterated that the order should be tabled to allow time to follow up.

Councilor Bartley expressed concern about taking away parking for the benefit of one business.  He then suggested that councilors should be more cautious in filing orders on behalf of one business without doing more work to look into the matter.

Councilor Vacon made a motion to table. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:40:05)

Item 7: 3-16-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that Order that the city of Holyoke bar large vehicles from the following public ways:
a.         Hillside Avenue
b.         Queen Street
c.         Hitchcock Street
d.         Michigan Avenue
e.         Edbert Drive
f.          Memorial Drive
g.         Moss Avenue
h.         Sheehan Drive
i.          Arden Street
j.          Lorraine Street
k.         Fenton Street
l.          Nichols Drive
m.        Fairmont Street
n.         Fairview Street

---> Laid on the table.

DISCUSSION:

B. Peirent noted that several streets off of Homestead Avenue had been flagged, as well as a couple others. He stated they had not looked at every street yet, adding that although they see heavy commercial vehicle traffic, it had not been at the level required to gain MassDOT approval for a truck restriction. He added their requirement are rigorously enforced, and that a few trucks a day along with a large volume of other traffic would not trigger the threshold. He then suggested improving signage, including truck route signs to encourage truck drivers to use Homestead Avenue, as well as signage noting that certain side streets would lead to a street with an approved truck exclusion.

Councilor Vacon commended the work to address the issue, adding that large tractor trailers had gone down McGrady Street as well. She noted that GPS may be taking truck drivers off the route, adding that she understood Mr. Peirent had reached out to Google to address that issue.

Councilor Murphy commended Mr. Peirent for the work he does to come up with solutions to many issues. He also noted that the Police Department reached out to Dollar General to request their drivers avoid side streets. He suggested it needs to be as obvious as possible to truck drivers that they should avoid driving on side streets.

Councilor McGiverin commended Councilor Bartley and Mr. Peirent for their work. He observed it had only been recent that the larger trucks had been driving on the side streets, adding that he believed GPS was the issue. He suggested that the state was partly responsible, noting that Route 202 splits through the city across two different streets, likely causing a truck’s GPS to recalculate. He also noted many large trucks likely should not even come through Holyoke, adding that they leave from distribution centers in Westfield and likely use Holyoke to get to I-91 without paying tolls on I-90.

Councilor Vacon expressed her hope that a light at the top of Apremont may discourage truckers from continuing to drive up the hill.

Councilor Bartley expressed his agreement that truck drivers are using Holyoke to avoid tolls. He then suggested that the rules establishing truck exclusion thresholds could be changed by legislators. He then noted having observed footage from door cameras from residents showing large trucks stopped on Westfield Road in early morning, going down side streets, and driving over lawns. He reiterated that the state laws could be amended. He suggested the order could be complied with, noting that the work was being done to add signs.

Chairwoman Lisi asked Councilor Bartley if would prefer that the order was tabled, noting that the entire list of streets had not been analyzed.

Councilor Bartley deferred to the committee and the Engineer.

Chairwoman Lisi stated it could be taken up in late August or September.

Councilor Vacon made a motion to table. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:55:45)

Item 8: 4-6-21 Petition for Speed hump at Argyle Ave.

---> Laid on the table.

DISCUSSION:

B. Peirent stated that the first step on a speed hump petition is to measure the existing speeds on the street. He noted that 85% of the drivers travel at or below 21 miles per hour, adding that only 3% of the drivers travel over the speed limit of 25 miles per hour. He suggested that speed humps may not have an effect as most already drive under the speed limit and the few who drive over may not be deterred from doing so because of speed humps. He suggested a more effective approach would be to post officers for selective speed enforcement.

Councilor Bartley asked if the City Council can ignore the recommendation and pass the speed humps anyway.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested that the City Council can made any decision whether or not it is advisable.

B. Peirent agreed that City Council has the authority to take whatever action they feel is appropriate.

Councilor Bartley requested that the committee at lease hear out the residents of Argyle Avenue. He recalled meeting with the residents several years back when there was an issue with patrons of a business creating traffic issues, adding that the petition was filed after that business was no longer there. He suggested giving the residents an opportunity to be heard by the committee.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table. Councilor Anderson-Burgos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(3:01:20)

Item 9: 12-1-20 Petition from residents on Michigan Ave. for speed bumps

---> Laid on the table.

DISCUSSION:

B. Peirent stated that the street had been studied on a couple of occasions, adding that they found that a significant volume of vehicles exceeds the posted speed limit. He then stated they would plan to install temporary speed humps installed following the upcoming July 4th holiday, observe if there was an effect, and then come back with a recommendation on whether or not to hold a public hearing.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(3:02:50)

Item 10: 12-3-19 TALLMAN, LEAHY, MCGEE -- That the DPW install truck exclusion signs at both ends of Bemis Rd.

---> Tabled

DISCUSSION:

B. Peirent stated that after studying traffic, they found a small percentage are heavy commercial vehicles. He noted as before that the volume would not be enough to receive a truck exclusion from MassDOT. He stated that while he is not often a fan of installing signs, the DPW would post them if the City Council passed an order to do so. He noted they may not be enforceable but could have a deterrent effect.

Councilor Murphy suggested that if the effect is to deter some, it may be worth posting signs. He then asked if signs had yet been posted on Westfield Road near Memorial Drive.

B. Peirent stated they had not yet.

Councilor Murphy reiterated that it may be worth posting signs even if it is not the ideal solution, adding that they may find the residents end up not complaining as much.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(3:06:25)

Item 11: 5-18-21 HERNANDEZ -- That a handicap sign be removed from the front of 143 Oak St.

---> Approved 5-0

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Vacon made a motion to approve removing the handicap sign. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(3:06:40)

Item 12: 5-18-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that The Dpw and Disabilities Commission remove the Handicap parking sign in front of 7 Russell Terrace. The house is vacant and there is no need for handicap parking.

---> Approved 5-0

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Vacon made a motion to approve removing the handicap sign. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Councilor Murphy made a motion to adjourn. Councilor Vacon seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Adjourned at 9:40 PM.


Jeffery Anderson-Burgos
Holyoke City Hall
536 Dwight St, Room 10
Holyoke, MA 01040
Regular hours 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Meeting days 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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