|North Adams Council Passes Taxi Ordinance|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff |
07:09AM / Saturday, November 18, 2023
|The Public Safety Committee has been reviewing the taxi ordinance at the behest of the mayor and Police Department after a hearing on violations pointed to the city's limitations in regulating cab companies. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council passed the long-awaited taxi to a second reading on Tuesday.
The council made short work of a number of lingering items on the agenda through postponement and wrapped up in just under 45 minutes.
The creation of a hospital overlay district was approved
with little discussion. The council had had a joint public hearing with the Planning Board on Monday and the planners immediately voted to recommend its passage to the council
The Public Safety Committee has been reviewing the taxi ordinance at the behest of the mayor and Police Department after a hearing on violations pointed to the city's limitations in regulating cab companies.
The committee started back in March looking into updating language and developing a process for dealing with potential violations.
The final version was unveiled on Tuesday that clarified violations for taxi drivers and taxi operators (owners). Drivers could get their licenses suspended for up to 10 days after three moving violations but police could institute an immediate suspension if determined to be a matter of public safety. It also included language for appealing license revocations.
Councilor Bryan Sapienza, chair of Public Safety, thanked his colleagues on the committee Marie T. Harpin and Michael Obasohan for their efforts on the ordinance.
Postponed to the first meeting in December was the update fines and fees language and repeals of some sections of the junk and secondhand dealers ordinance. Both are awaiting input from the city solicitor.
Also postponed to December was potential ordinance language dealing with trash and litter. Sapienza reported that his committee had discussed possible solutions to properties with junk and trash accumulations.
"We were going to seek a solicitor's opinion on whether or not we can use tax liens to enforce the fines and to enable us to have a little bit more leverage in trying to clean up some of these derelict properties," he said.
He added that there was also a proposal to put a ban on feeding wildlife.
Councilor Ashley Shade, who had raised the issue months ago, noted the council didn't have much control in that are but a lot of it could be regulated by the Board of Health.
"If you're noticing people leaving rubbish out and it's interfering in the community, please contact the Board of Health and let them know," she told the audience. "Because if they're not informed, they can't do anything about it."
Mayor Jennifer Macksey said there have been internal discussions about a "lien and clean" policy.
"We're not ready to really execute that because there's pros and cons of if you start hauling people's trash away, then they can expect that and that's not our business," she said. "But we are very concerned about the amount of debris that's out there and not really having a mechanism to fix it."
Council President Lisa Blackmer asked if there could be some ordinance language by December. "I can make that happen," said Sapienza.
Councilor Wayne Wilkinson noted that an order that was tabled at the last meeting was back on the agenda. He moved again to table but Councilor Ashley Shade responded, "should we motion to file, we tabled last time and it didn't work" to laughter. The motion was filed.
In other business,
• The mayor read a proclamation in support of Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20. During open forum, Councilor-elect Andrew Fitch said North Adams Pride was partnering with the Bear and Bee Bookstore and Councilor Ashley Shade on an event that would memorialize those lost. The event starts at 5:30 and will include a walk to City Hall to read their names. The public is invited to attend.
• The council set a tax classification hearing for its meeting on Nov. 28 at the request of the mayor.
• The council confirmed Beverly Cooper's reappointment to the Retirement Board for a term to expire Nov. 17, 2026, and the appointment of Miranda Smith-Hunt to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Commission to fill the unexpired term of Lynn DeSanty for a term to expire Feb. 8, 2024.
• The council rescinded the Keith Minori's taxi license to drive for R.J.'s Taxi as he had lost his driver's license following a motor vehicle accident.
• The mayor noted the flags will be removed from the graves at Southview this Saturday if anyone would like to help.
• Blackmer commended City Clerk Tina Leonesio, her staff and poll workers for their work during the election.
"It's their first election as a team," she said. "They did pass it flying colors and I know it's not easy."