NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A change in process for removing parking spaces was rejected on Tuesday after passing by a 5-3 vote two weeks ago.
City Councilor Keith Bona, who argued strongly against the ordinance change two weeks ago, was able to swing the vote unanimously to his side and prevent it from passing a second reading. His objections had centered around the city's parking ordinances that would be still be on the books but with no way to document new changes.
"There are ordinances on our books right now specific to parking ... if we move to what we had last week, these will stay on the books," he said. "They will sort of be on this no man's list that won't be in ordinance."
The change in process had been sparked by a request some months ago by the Traffic Commission to remove two metered parking spots
on the west side of American Legion Drive near the hotel. The street is being redone and a bike lane being added to that side of the street.
The commission's first recommendation was incomplete in that it recommended removing the spaces but did not refer to the parking meters, which fall under ordinance. The matter was referred to the city solicitor and the Public Safety Committee, which recommended language back that allowed a simple majority vote — rather than ordinance — to remove parking.
"... the City Council, by majority vote and upon recommendation of the Traffic Commission, may remove installed parking and parking spaces with the Parking Meter Zones established by provisions of Chapter 13-58," the change read.
The council two weeks debated the wording and then voted to amend to a two-thirds vote by 6-2; but Bona and Councilors Eric Buddington and Robert R. Moulton Jr. voted against the final wording.
Some councilors saw it as a way to streamline what can be a cumbersome process in adding or removing parking; City Solicitor John DeRosa had said the parking zones wouldn't change in ordinance but this would give the council and Traffic Commission authority to rearrange spots.
"I get the streamlining but to to me it's really going to complicate things in the long run," Bona said on Tuesday night. The ordinances already have outdated references — to the long-gone Bank Street and the "Kmart driveway" — and this change would further remove what's in the ordinances from what's on the street, he said.
Buddington agreed, saying the ordinance would create a dual system of determining parking spaces with no mechanism as to who or how a separate list of revoked spaces would be maintained. Nor was there an option to reinstall a parking spot.
"I think this is a complicated and unnecessary change and I prefer we do one of two things," he said. "Either remove the two spaces from ordinance in the tradiational manner or that we remove all the spaces from ordinance and delegate this responsibility to the Traffic Commission."
There was concern over whether putting off the change would affect the American Legion Drive project. Mayor Richard Alcombright said there was not a date to start yet and even once it did, there would be at least a couple weeks for the paving to set before any striping would be done.
"When the trucks roll in and I need to do job, I'm hoping I feel confident to stripe it that way," he said. "And if for some strange reason it gets voted out, we can grind them down and paint them the other way."
The council generally confirmed that it would approve the removal of the two parking spots once an ordinance change specific to them could be voted on. A new ordinance could be ready for the second meeting in August, which would put the second and final reading in September.
Councilors Joshua Moran and Wayne Wilkinson suggested cleaning up all the parking ordinances at once but other councilors saw that as a separate issue that could be taken up in committee.
People who leave tag sales up beyond their sale dates could face a $100 fine.
In other business, the council amended and then approved to a second reading and to be published an ordinance change requiring boards and commissions to have meeting minutes available at the city clerk's office withing two weeks of a meeting. The ordinance had been continued from July over concerns of being able to approve minutes that fast.
Buddington, who has been spearheading this change for some time, said he had spoken with the attorney general's office and had received the recommendation that "shall file minutes" have the language "whether or not approved" added in. Council President Benjamin Lamb said he had spoken with the city solicitor, who did not seem to have any concerns. The amendment and publication had unanimous approval.
• The council also confirmed the reappointments of Shirley Davis and Robert Burdick to the Mass MoCA Commission for terms to expire on Feb. 1, 2020.
• The mayor also made a point of informing holders of tag sales that the city will begin enforcing the laws on signs. Workers will be removing tag sale signs over the next week or so, but after that, any owners will be ticketed.
The ordinance states that "All signage pertaining to a tag sale shall be removed within two days after the sale date." Failure to do so results in a $100 fine. Alcombright said it will be easy to track the scofflaws down because "they put their addresses on their signs."