It’s nothing but panic and despair this morning. A talented writer would welcome the challenge of turning a bland meeting into something compelling. Unfortunately, I am not that writer.
Instead, how about if we just crowbar in some It’s a Wonderful Life GIFs to help usher in some holiday spirit, and fill some space? In addition, I can’t help but think that references to a film from 1946 will appeal to that younger demographic we’re after.
1. Robinson Motions Tabled. Again.
There was some minor drama at the top of the meeting as Councilor Robinson had two motions on the agenda.
C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. Have The Proper Department Work With Surrounding Communities, The State Administration And Community Partners As Well As Utilizing Our Emergency Management Plan To Create Additional Winter Protocol Bed Opportunities.
C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. Provide An Update On Status On Filling The Vacant Director Of Human Resources Position.
Last week, a majority of councilors moved to “table” (read: “banish”) all five of Councilor Robinson’s motions. As such, there was a question as to whether they would continue to bury Councilor Robinson’s motions. The answer was “yes” – as Councilors Drinkwater and Leahy immediately moved to table the two motions referenced above. After the first motion was tabled, Councilor Robinson (again appearing via Zoom) asked for a “point of personal privilege” and started riffing on why he filed the motion relative to the winter protocol. It was my understanding that the Mayor should have stepped in to stop this speech as tabled motions cannot be debated. He didn’t, and Councilor Leahy had to step in to remind the Mayor that no debate on a tabled motion is permitted.
A few moments later, Councilor Gitschier re-filed one of the older “tabled” Councilor Robinson motions under his own name:
C. Gitschier – Req. City Mgr. Provide An Update On Implementation Of The 311 System.
The council voted to un-table the old Robinson motion and substitute the new Gitschier motion. I suspect we now have our answer as to whether any motions filed by Councilor Robinson will get any oxygen while his criminal case is pending. The question going forward is whether we will be treated to the dog and pony show of tabling and un-tabling motions at every meeting.
2. Federal & State Funding for Housing
On the same night that the Worcester City Council was passing a by-right ADU ordinance, our council was still scratching it’s collective head on the ways and means to deal with the housing crisis (“Lowell is not Worcester!” – Assholes, probably)
First up was a response to a Motion by Councilor Nuon seeking info on where state an federal money goes towards housing in the city:
Motion Response – 1/24/23 – Councilor Nuon – Request City Manager Provide City Council With A Report Detailing The Delineation Of Federal And State Funding That Is Received And Goes Towards Housing In The City
The response noted that DPD’s Housing Division utilizes Federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to improve the quality, affordability and energy efficiency of Lowell’s housing stock – detailed as follows:
3. Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay District
The second housing item discussed was an idea put forth by Councilor Jenness borrowed from the Peoples’ Republic of Cambridge:
10/24/23 – Councilor Jenness – Request City Manager Have The Proper Department Analyze The 100% Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay Implemented By Cambridge, Ma. For Any Opportunities That Lowell Can Use To Foster More Affordable Housing Development Within The City And Report Findings To The Council.
Adopted by the City Council in October 2020, the 100%-Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) is designed to help affordable housing developers create new, permanently affordable homes more quickly, more cost effectively, and in areas of the city where there are currently fewer affordable housing opportunities. The AHO allows the creation of new, permanently affordable housing that is denser than what might be allowed under base zoning, and creates a new review process through which new affordable housing can be approved more efficiently.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Executed poorly, it looks ripe for a zone of concentrated poverty – but I could be misunderstanding how it works. I’ll need to do some more research (Also – “Lowell is NOT Cambridge!”). Certainly an idea worth exploring.
4. EPA Consent Decree
Once again, the Federal Gumment is trying to take away our freedoms. This time, it’s our freedom to dirty up the water supply with poor infrastructure. Specifically, 330 million gallons of combined sewer to
the Merrimack and Concord Rivers and Beaver Brook in a typical year.
Enter An EPA consent decree is a court order between the EPA and Lowell that resolves violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) mainly related to combined sewer overflows (CSOs) . By Federal and State mandate, LRWWU must monitor and eventually remove or control all CSO discharges to rivers. Aaron Fox, head of the Wastewater division, was on hand to go over a very well done presentation on what the issue is and how we can hope to mitigate it.
Long story short: it’s a mess and absurdly expensive to fix. Frankly, I’m not sure how we could ever do it short of help from the same federal government that is currently hitting us with fines.
I wish I had $150-$200 Million (plus $200K for the Civil Penalty)….HOT DOG!
5. MSBA Accelerated Repair Update: $13,647,402 in Stuff for $3,420,537
6. The Rest
Clarence got his wings.