License petition trips ordinance process

WESTFIELD – A business owner appeared before the City Council’s License Committee Tuesday night to request a livery license from the City Council to operate a limousine service with his fleet of five vehicles.
The problem, for Ken Welker, owner of K&M Corporation, is that the council never completed the livery ordinance effort it began more than two years ago.
At-large Councilor John Beltrandi, chairman of the License Committee said last night he will attempt to push the ordinance through the council quickly so as to not further delay Welker, who has dealt with a number of twists and turns while attempting to establish the limousine service.
Welker originally purchased his fleet of vehicles from the now defunct Call’s Limousine company with the intent to lease the building on East Main Street, where Call’s was located, only to find that it had been leased to another business before the limo auction.
Welker then found another location at a vehicle repair garage with sufficient space to house the limousines inside only to be told that the repair facility was not in a zone that would allow the limousine use.
Welker then found another site at 37 South Maple Street, which was also not zoned correctly but which was believed to be “grandfathered” because its commercial use predated the zoning requirement.
It was later determined that the former commercial use, which was agricultural in nature, was not sufficiently broad as to allow the limo service. Welker’s establishment of his business was further delayed while the property was rezoned from Rural Residential to Business B.
Beltrandi said livery ordinance is a “work in progress.
“We were in the process of adopting an ordinance after the last limousine license application when the applicant died and it stalled because there was no urgency to complete the process,” Beltrandi said. “Because we don’t have (a livery ordinance) on the books, we have to create one.”
The council had requested the Westfield Police Department Traffic and Safety Bureau to investigate livery ordinances in other communities. Sgt. Brian Boldini, now retired, prepared that report which was submitted to the City Council to use as a springboard to establish a local ordinance.
Beltrandi said that a public hearing will be held on Welker’s license petition, then come back to the committee in parallel to the L&O ordinance process. Beltrandi also serves on the L&O Committee.
“I want your public hearing to go,” Beltrandi said to Welker. “You’ve already have had to wait for the zone change. We’ll try to make this as painless as possible.”
“Once the hearing is held, we have to get something in (to the L&O Committee), a document we can use for licensing taxi and limo companies,” Beltrandi said. “It will have to come out of the L&O because it’s an ordinance.”
“We do have the correspondence from (Sgt) Boldini. I want to get this distributed to the L&O to get this (ordinance process) going,” he said. “We also have some correspondence from (former) Councilor (Nicholas) Morganelli to work with on the ordinance.”

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