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Public hearing set for body art establishment bylaw

Date: 9/4/2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — A public hearing regarding the proposed zoning bylaw amendment that would permit the allowed-by-right siting of body art establishments has been scheduled for Sept. 25.

While the Aug. 17 deadline established for warrant articles for the Oct. 1 Special Town Meeting has passed, the Board of Selectmen has yet to close the warrant, which allowed for the possibility of the article being pulled back. However, the Planning Board agreed at its Aug. 28 meeting not to do so.

Planning Board Chair George Kingston also said that the board could hold off on making a determination on whether or not it would recommend the article until after the hearing.

"I would strongly recommend that we go ahead with our public hearing and hear what the public has to say before making a decision to recommend or not recommend," he said.

Robyn Macdonald, planning director, instructed the board that after the public hearing, a vote to recommend or not recommend must be made and she must submit a written report to the moderator.

Kingston added that should public comments at the public hearing be overwhelmingly negative, the bylaw could also be pulled on the floor with a recommendation to take no action.

The board originally voted 4 to 1 in early August to send the issue to town meeting following the formulation of a bylaw that would allow such establishments to exist in business zones, provided that the site is not within 500 feet of a church or a public school in early August, but the board has since revisited the issue.

On Aug. 14, the board conducted a vote to reconsider the bylaw during which board members Michael Carabetta and Alessandro Meccia voted to reconsider while Kingston and board member Ralph Page voted to continue as planned. Because Michael Przybylowicz, who was the one detractor in the original vote, was not present to break the tie, the motion failed and no action was taken.

Meccia agreed that the matter should be brought before the town because of, among other things, the amount of time and effort that has gone into the creation of the proposed bylaw.

"We've spent time putting it together and talking about it," he said. "I have my feelings [and] everyone on this board seems to have a different feeling about it. Let's see what the public has to say."

Przybylowicz said there "doesn't seem to be any harm" in hosting a public hearing.

In addition to the body art establishment bylaws, Kingston said that public hearings for all other articles would also take place on Sept. 25.