As of July 2014, I have served on the City Council for 6 months, and I have a much better understanding of the frustrations that so many of you have expressed to me when dealing with our city government. When talking to city officials about how to get something accomplished, many people have said they have been told, “there is nothing we can do” or “you can’t do that”.
Because of our over burdensome ordinances, the city council spends way too much time negotiating and deciding how to build a development in the city. The fact that the council only meets twice a month drags these negotiations on for months. This is especially detrimental to small businesses. This puts potential changes that could speed up the process on the back burner.
The fact that no-one on the Council committee that is doing these negotiations has a background in planning, architecture or engineering, only makes the problem worse. Most of this work should be done by a qualified full time city employee with the background and experience to get the job done quickly and professionally.
In January, I proposed an ordinance change on Fuel Storage Permits. My change would put most all of these permit requests in the hands of the professionals in the Fire Service, as every community that I am aware of does. It hasn’t been acted upon because the Ordinance and Rules Committee has not had time to act on it, because they have been tied up making design and infrastructure decisions on several large developments.
Our zoning regulations are a relic from a different time and are an anchor around the neck of our financial future. The inconsistencies in the implementation of the Inflow & Infiltration policy make it less and less likely that business will want to locate here. Hopefully, the recently approved citizen input committees on these issues will come back with its recommendations quickly and the council will take action on them. I hope my fellow councillors will work to streamline the process that will allow Waltham to compete with our surrounding communities in the future.