First public hearing by telephone at May 7 Council meeting

WESTFIELD – The City Council will host a public hearing by telephone conference May 7 for a gas storage license for the new Big Y gas station at 330 Main St. This will be the first public hearing at the Council since meetings have been held remotely.

The gas station has already received permits from the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board after lengthy reviews, and construction is underway. At its May 5 meeting, the Planning Board approved changes made to the lighting and access for the station made by Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which they said improved the plan that already passed the board.

Council President Brent B. Bean II commented that the approval processes for businesses in the city is redundant.

“We looked at this a year ago. A lot of these processes are redundant. Why have the Planning Board and City Council both look at it? Time is money for businesses. That’s why we keep moving the city forward on our zoom meetings, because we want to give businesses opportunities to move their plans forward,” Bean said.

Bean also expressed concern about the amount of work already done on the station before getting the approval from the council for gas storage, which has been delayed by the shutdown.

Another project moving forward is the traffic signal light at Springfield Road and East Main Street. The council will vote on a resolution approving an agreement between the City of Westfield and MassDOT on the Route 20 Traffic Signal Improvement Project, which is also under construction.

In other business, City Clerk Karen Fanion will submit an amendment to the resolution designating one centralized polling place for the Special State Election (Senate Seat) at Westfield Middle School at 30 West Silver Street on May 19, changed from the original scheduled date of March 31. The hours of the election will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m

Fanion has encouraged voters to request an Early Ballot application for early voting. The application is available on the city website at Ballots will be mailed out, and must be returned to the City Clerk’s office by the date of the election.

Also on the City Council agenda will be a report from the Finance Committee.

Bean said the budget process, which the chair of finance would have “loved to start” the third meeting in May, has been delayed due to delays in budget proposals in the State House. He said the mayor is almost done with his department meetings, but everybody is waiting for some idea about state funding.

“It’s going to be a sprint in June,” Bean said, adding that his main concern will be to not lay anyone off.

“Everybody’s waiting for some idea. The School Department is very prepared to have three tiers of cuts; one two or three. We’re going to be in the same situation. My main concern is not going to be laying off of individuals. We’re a service industry; (which is) a high 80% of the budget,” Bean said.

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