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City Council to consider snow removal fee

Date: 3/8/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

CHICOPEE — The City Council referred an amended city ordinance to committee for further discussion that would impose a $50 fine for residents who do not clear snow from a fire hydrant at its March 5 meeting.

Councilor James Tillotson expressed concerns about the fee and said some people may not be physically able to remove snow, especially when snow is piled high at street corners. He said the Fire Department should continue performing that service.

Councilor Frank Laflamme said there is a question about which neighbor would be responsible for clearing a hydrant.

The councilors approved a hearing to discuss the traffic concerns at the corner of Grattan and Providence streets, the area of several businesses as well as the way many people use to access the senior center.

Councilor John Vieau said, "I don't know what the answers are but there are concerns there that need to be addressed."

Councilor Robert Zygarowski said he would be convening a meeting of the Public Safety Committee on March 27 at 6:30 p.m. and the discussion about the intersection will be on the agenda.

The council approved the measure that would pay for the design of a new heating and cooling system for the public safety complex. Tillotson said he doesn't believe the city can afford a new $20 million police station "until we know where we are going," referencing the uncertainty of both the upcoming state budget and the impact of the recent federal budget cuts.

He supported the mayor's order to allocate $8,500 for the design of a new heating and cooling system for the public safety complex as a stopgap measure. Laflamme said the cost for installing a new system would be $350,000, which the council would have to approve in the future.

The council acted on several applications for special permits for the sale of alcohol. Vieau said there were concerns from residents about the application for Cabot Pub II, 66 Cabot St. Residents said they did not want any adult entertainment allowed and a restriction was placed on the permit. The council approved the permit.

The Marriot Hotel, currently under construction on Memorial Drive, received its requested special permit to allow the serving of beer and wine at functions. There will be no bar at the hotel, Vieau explained.

The transfer of a license for the Royal Café at 699 Grattan St. to a new owner, Thomas Hill was also approved. Laflamme said neighbors were concerned about parking and he said the new owner would work with the city on issues surrounding trucks making deliveries. Tillotson said Hill would be making inquiries about sharing the parking lots of either the Lucky Strike Restaurant or the Aldenville Credit Union at night when those businesses are closed. A restriction against adult entertainment was also attached to the special permit, Vieau added.

Zygarowksi spoke about the Public Safety Committee meeting that discussed school safety in reaction to the shooting at Newtown, Conn. Zygarowksi said the meeting was "exceptionally productive" and he said the suggestion was made for the city to acquire four more cruisers to be parked at the schools for the resource officers to use.

The councilor declined to reveal everything as he said some of the information presented by school officials was confidential. He added that School Superintendent Richard Rege presented a very detailed account of the safety measures currently in practice at the schools.

Representatives of the city's private schools were also at the meeting and Laflamme said there is an action underway to alert all the city's schools with any public safety information.

Councilor Jean Croteau Jr. said the police officers at the schools now have access to rifles to increase their firepower in case of a heavily armed intruder.

In other action, James Grise was re-appointed to the License Commission by the council.

Councilor Timothy McLellan said fears concerning government involvement in the city's tree stock through a proposed tree inventory were deemed unfounded after an investigatory meeting and the council approved accepting the $23,500 grant to pay for the inventory. The inventory will determine healthy and unhealthy trees as well as what tress should be planted in a location.

"In the long run this will be great for the city," McLellan said.