Land ordinances discussed at Cambridge City Council meeting

CAMBRIDGE — The council meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. with the fun stuff. First up, a noise variance and a request for police officers requested by the Cambridge Christmas Committee. Past lighting ceremonies have drawn huge crowds and the officers are needed for traffic and street crossings to insure safety. Requests granted.

In preparation for the 17th annual Festival of Wreaths, another Cambridge tradition, Pleasant Day Adult Day Care Center seeks to hang a banner across Race Street from Nov. 17-Dec. 1. Approval granted.

Still more celebrating; this time, it’s Cambridge Main Street with four requests–a noise variance, permission to sell alcohol outside, permission to install pop-up tents, and blocking the 400 block of Race Street and the 500 block of Poplar. The event is planned for Second Saturday, Dec. 10 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The council approved the request.

Reason for celebrating … two state grants were accepted by the council. The police department won a grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control for $131,774. The sum of $120,000 will be used for a victim advocate program, and the balance for a drug dog, and its training. Those funds are for those specific programs and cannot be used elsewhere.

The second state grant, a total of $392,955, is for the use of the Municipal Utilities Commission for replacement of pumps.
Police Department Reorganization also won council approval. Resolution 16-014, amending a previous resolution 16-010 which dealt with salary grades and steps in the police department, was approved.

Three land ordinances were introduced and will be discussed at the Nov. 28 meeting. A second reading and a public hearing on the ordinances are scheduled for that evening. Ordinance 1088 would allow marine repair shops in the Downtown Development District (the DDD), two allows auto repair shops in the DDD, and three allows side by side configuration of mixed use in the DDD.

In Old Business, the council waived certain fees for Michael Baugh, Agent for JWB Properties LLC. Fines, charges, and penalties were waived on 528 High St. and 810 Pine St. The same had been done for Habitat for Humanity at a previous council meeting, and Mr. Baugh was asking for a similar reduction. Mr Baugh’s bill of more than $20,000 was reduced to $9,000, less than half.

Nancy Andrew, of Habitat for Humanity, presented facts and figures of the work Habitat has accomplished in Cambridge. She traced its progress through the years, 12 homes completed with four additional homes in progress. The photographs of the houses built showed attractive, well-built homes. In addition, a weatherization program is underway, with 12 projects completed and 11 underway.

Finance Director Ginger Heatwole presented a first-quarter financial report on the city’s funds, reintroducing the possibility of approval for establishment of a reserve policy. “Reserves provide a government with options to respond to unexpected issues and afford a buffer against shocks….” The quarterly report includes charts and graphs with the details. While”revenue is looking good,” health insurance costs are climbing. Commissioner LaShon Foster suggested the city should look into joining a group with other municipalities. There might be savings as part of a larger group. The city manager is checking that out.

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