PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council's Ordinance & Rules Subcommittee is recommending the city ban so-called puppy mills, with one committee member calling it a "slam dunk."
The subcommittee on Monday also recommended the adoption of the new Tyler Street zoning overlay that would modernize zoning in the area that stretches from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue.
The puppy mill ordinance would ban the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits from animal breeding mills in the city "that do not come from animal shelters."
This would eliminate the sale of animals raised in cruel conditions and encourage people to adopt from shelters and responsible breeders.
"I fully support this and I think it is ridiculous that the state has not stepped up to the plate and communities have to pass it on their own," Councilor at Large Earl Persip III, a subcommittee member, said. "It is a slam dunk and I don't think there is anyone who would not support this."
This originally came in the form of a petition from local attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo that was vetted and altered by the City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta
"I took this pretty much verbatim," Pagnotta said. "I made a couple of edits for language, not substantive."
Del Gallo, who attended the meeting, thanked Pagnotta for his work. He added that it appeared as though the ordinance had a lot of support.
"This has had a lot of support, some of the things I have brought forth have been more controversial," he said, alluding to his ultimately successful petition to ban single-use bags and another that addressed cruelty to farm animals. "This has a lot of love."
He added that although Pittsfield does not currently have an establishment that sells such animals, the possibility of one opening is not out of the question.
"We would rather outlaw it before they come here than after they come here," he said, adding it would be "much nicer" to any new business to have an ordinance in place before it opens than later.
Members of Berkshire Voters for Animals all spoke in support of the ordinance and thanked the City Council for considering it.
The subcommittee voted to set a flat $300 fee for violators. The ordinance would be enforced by the police and animal control.
The full council now needs to pass the ordinance.
The subcommittee also moved to recommend the Tyler Street zoning overlay that has been before a number of boards over the months.
"I think this is a great culmination of everything that has been going on," subcommittee Vice Chairman and Councilor at Large Peter White said. "So thank you to everyone involved."
The Planning Board acted as petitioner last year and recommended the overlay to City Council, which volleyed it back to the Planning Board. From there it went back to City Council, then then relayed the amendment to Ordinance & Rules in January.
The amendment would accommodate modern uses such as shared work spaces, live/work spaces, and other mixed uses. Also the southeast area would be rezoned from Commercial, Warehouse and Storage to General Business aligning with the current use that is mostly residential at the moment.
The amendment also sets up the framework for the development of three-family dwellings and aligns parking standards with the rest of the downtown, making it easier for businesses to move in.
"This zoning amendment is several years in the making," City Planner C.J. Hoss said. "The concentration of work in that neighborhood really highlighted some of the zoning deficiencies just in relation to the lack of flexibility."
Hoss said the next step for Tyler Street will be the streetscape, which he hopes to roll out in the next few months.
"There seems to be a growing interest in the neighborhood and heading into the streetscape that will be a big component of it," he said. "We want to make it a safer and easier place to get around."
The council tabled a petition from Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio, another subcommittee member, dealing with trash collection until a future meeting because of confusion over some data.
Maffuccio brought forth a petition in January to amend the city code in the collection of solid waste and asked that the city limit collection to residential structures containing fewer than four units. He advocated for a service charge to be levied against the owners of four-family properties and larger unless they are owner-occupied properties.
He also asked that this same rule be applied to properties with two or fewer units.
The subcommittee will contact the city assessor, the interim commissioner of public services and utilities, and the director of health to clarify some housing information.
The councilors agreed that the petition is really part of a larger conversation around solid waste the city has to have.
White thanked Maffuccio for his creative solution but did not want to put a surcharge on landlords who would most likely pass the charge on to tenants.
"I think this could hurt some of the poorest neighborhoods and I don't think it will get us to an overall reduction in trash while increasing recycling," he said.
The subcommittee approved an item from the Police Advisory and Review Board requesting an amendment of the City Code reducing the number of annual required ride-alongs with police officers from four to two. The review board felt four ride-alongs a year were too many and cumbersome.
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Federally-Backed & Local Loans Aim to Support Small Business in Crisis
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As small businesses confront what some analysts already have called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the phones of a small-business adviser have been relatively quiet.
"The main contact we're getting is through email," Keith Girouard said this week. "That is a lot more effective and efficient for us.
"We're working through phone and Zoom [video conferencing] as well. But the phone is not ringing off the hook. The emails are ringing off the hook."
Girouard is the Berkshire regional director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network. He operates one of five such centers across the commonwealth and a thousand in the United States and its territories.
On Thursday, BRPC Executive Director Tom Matuszko told the agency's executive committee that one of its initiatives was able to quickly pivot to addressing the fallout from the novel coronavirus.
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