By Christopher Roberson
The City Council recently declined to take action on two zoning matters, as neither one had been vetted by the appropriate subcommittee.
Speaking on behalf of his client Warren Innis, Attorney John Keilty proposed to make the affordable housing requirements applicable to developments with 30 units in zoning districts R1, R1A and R1B. Under the current bylaw, affordable housing requirements apply to residential developments with 15 units.
During the Feb. 8 meeting, Councillor-at-Large David Gravel expressed his reluctance in approving the change, saying it needed to be taken up by the council’s Industrial & Community Development Committee. “I really think this matter should be in subcommittee and discussed,” he said.
The second matter was also presented by Keilty who, in this case, was representing Pulaski Acquisition LLC, which purchased the property on Pulaski Street formerly owned by Chelsea Industries. Keilty said that since the land was purchased last spring, some of the tenants “have or may have a retail component to their business”; however, he said retail operations have not been permitted in a Light Industrial (I-L) zone since 2013. Therefore, a zoning change would allow those tenants to request special permits from the City Council for retail.
Ward 1 Councillor Jon Turco said it was a “decent idea,” however, he wanted more information before casting his vote. “These aren’t small changes that we’re making,” he said.
Ward 3 Councillor James Moutsoulas said he remembered when Chelsea Industries owned the property. “The building was the size of a football field, and they worked 24 hours a day; that was a very busy place,” he said.
Moutsoulas said the building had been vacant for 25 years before the property was purchased last May. “I don’t want to see that place empty again,” he said. “I want to make sure that industrial park is full and paying taxes to this city.”
That zoning request was also sent to the Industrial & Community Development Committee and will be discussed at the March 8 meeting.
Other City Council news
In other news, Councillor-at-Large Thomas Gould made a motion to remove speed limit signs above 25 miles per hour (mph). Turco reminded him that the new citywide speed limit is “25 mph unless otherwise posted,” therefore, the signs with the higher speed limits must stay. Recognizing that he misunderstood the ordinance, Gould withdrew his motion and asked that Police Capt. Scott Richards attend the next council meeting to clarify the citywide speed limit.
Ward 5 Councillor Joel Saslaw asked that a second communication be sent to the Planning Board about moving its meetings to the City Hall auditorium where they can be televised. “They had a meeting on Feb. 1 and they didn’t discuss it,” he said.
However, City Clerk Timothy Spanos said the Planning Board is not obligated to change its meeting location. “It’s up to the Planning Board if they want to move up here,” he said. “I don’t think the council can force them.”
Saslaw also asked that State Rep. Thomas Walsh be contacted about repairs that are needed for the sound barrier at Route 128 North and Lowell Street.
Gravel said the Peabody Education Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the George Peabody Legacy Award. “It’s our hall of fame for educators,” he said. Nomination forms are available on the foundation’s website, http://www.peabodyedfoundation.org/.