Town Council 5/20/19

Committee Name: 

Amherst Town Council

Meeting date: 

Monday, May 20, 2019 - 18:30

Meeting Location: 

Town Room, Amherst Town Hall

Members present: 


Observer Notes: 

Note: Roll call votes on all action items are now posted within 48 hours on the Town Council website under “Agendas, Packets, Minutes, and Media” as a 5th category (Unofficial record of votes).

Note also that videos of some meetings which are not available at Amherst Media are posted on the town’s YouTube channel, which can be accessed from the “Open Govt” page, sidebar with Social Media directory.

The agenda was rearranged to allow for general public comments and a Proclamation. Comments on committee appointments were postponed to later in the evening.

Proclamation: Amy Rusiecki, of DPW and also head of the MASS Waterworks Association presented the governor’s proclamation for Drinking Water Week.

Discussion Item: Hanneke, of the Governance, Organization and Legislative committee presented an idea for reducing the number of ad hoc committees. Council discussed it but no action was taken.

Ad hoc Committee on Rules of Procedure (Brewer and Schoen) presented their report, and moved to disband after their meeting the following morning—before their deadline to sunset. Approved 12-0.

The Finance Committee and Community Resources Committee jointly presented 3 motions for impact fees on short term rentals, with a percentage of the proceeds being used for affordable housing or infrastructure. (The percentage was in contention.) Vote 10-1-1, De Angelis dissenting, Dumont abstaining.

Ross proposed limits on campaign contributions to lower the bar for running for office. Vote 10-0-2 (Dumont and Pam abstain; Swartz absent) to refer back to GOL committee.

Most of the contention of the evening was around the appointment to the Planning Board of Janet McGowan to replace the experienced current chair, Greg Stutsman. Two issues predominated: experience versus new “eyes”, and privacy versus transparency. Public comments from Kristine Grey-Mullen and Jack Jemsek (both on the board), also Art Keene, Moira Keene and Bob Greeney. Much of the discussion revolved around the process, with Swartz and her committee defending the process used. McGowan was approved 8-2-3 (Ross and Ryan opposed; Schreiber, Steinberg and Griesmer abstained). Further discussion of how to keep experience but also bring new blood on the boards. The council will entertain the proposal to define “associates” to the Planning Board, and referred the question to GOL to define roles, terms and purpose which can be reported back to the full council to then be referred to OCA, if applicable. Motion failed, 0-9-4 (abstain Bahl-Milne, De Angelis, Griesmer, and Schoen). No action taken, but it seems the idea will return for discussion.

Minutes for May 6 and 8 (special meeting) approved.

Town Manager announced that the bridge on the Mill River below Puffers Pond will be opened in the next month. The temporary Station Road bridge construction will start May 28.

District 1 and 2 residents’ meeting will discuss the redesign of the intersection at Pine St, Sunderland Rd, and Route 63 in N. Amherst.

President Griesmer announced that the council is preparing for its role as the Town Manager evaluator; Alyssa reported on the Cannabis Control Commission meeting (in Springfield?); Shalini asked that an additional member be appointed to the CRC committee since it has so much to accomplish.

Adjourn 10:50 pm.

Public Comment: 

Public comments on the single new member appointed to the Planning Board from the following: Kristine Grey-Mullen and Jack Jemsek (both on the board), also Art Keene, Moira Keene and Bob Greeney.

League Observer: 

Barbara Pearson