Pittsfield City Council considers parking ban, code amendment


PITTSFIELD -- The City Council dealt on Tuesday with parking and heavy truck bans, as well as a code amendment that would allow "cooking, baking and preserving" food in a home-based occupation.

The Community Development Board requested an amendment to the Customary Home Occupations section under city code to allow food businesses, which City Planner C.J. Hoss said had been listed three decades ago in the section but are no longer included.

Councilor at large Barry J. Clairmont said of the proposal he usually supports small business, "but I do have a problem with this, unfortunately."

Clairmont said he could envision that "a cat could hop up on the counter" in a home while cooking was being done, and that such possibilities make him "very, very leery" of the change.

However, Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop said such a business "would not be exempted from public health inspections" by the Board of Health.

Hoss said a petition from the Community Development Board to the council recommending the change followed a situation last spring involving someone making cakes in the home.

The change will go back to that board for a hearing and then return to the council for final action.

Two reports came back to the council on Tuesday from the Traffic Commission, both with favorable recommendations.

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher J. Connell requested that no-parking zones be extended on both sides on High Street.

The Traffic Commission later recommended the extension from Dawes Avenue to Caledonia Street. The council voted approval.

Ward 7 Councilor Anthony J. Simonelli requested a ban on large trucks on Highland Avenue and Pecks Road from Lanesborough to the intersection of Valentine Road and Highland Avenue.

Simonelli said residents have complained about heavy trucks using the route as a bypass or shortcut, despite the residential nature of the neighborhoods and few businesses that might require deliveries.

He said the ban would not affect deliveries of oil or other commodities to homes or small businesses, but would ban tractor-trailers and similar heavy vehicles, which Simonelli said are also damaging the road surfaces.

While the council voted in favor of the request, Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo questioned how the city could enforce the ban.

Lothrop and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol said Gov. Deval Patrick's administration hasn't approved local heavy truck bans in several years.

However, the first step, councilors said, would be to approve the ban on the local level, which they did.

If state approvals can be gained or a special city ordinance enacted, Simonelli said he would like to see fines tripled for trucks stopped in violation.

The council also learned of a gift to the Fire Department of a utility trailer worth $4,179 from the Robert Staskin family, which has donated to the department in the past.

Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said he wanted to publicly thank Staskin, who was present, and family members for the gift.

The council referred to the Ordinance and Rules Committee Clairmont's proposal that the city adopt a state provision that allows property owners over 60 to provide volunteer services in exchange for a reduction in their property tax bill.

Clairmont said the provision is something he wants to put before the subcommittee for debate, saying the provision is complex but should be considered.

To reach Jim Therrien:
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