Day Spas, Doctors, and a Disappearing Councilor

Before the Leominster City Council is a petition to allow a Day Spa to operate in a residential neighborhood. At face value, it seems like a reasonable request; a quiet business, not much traffic…what harm could there be? Quite a bit unfortunately…

The basis of whether or not to pass the petition has nothing to do with whether or not the business owners are nice people as Councilor Dave Rowlands expressed in his well-spoken comments. I don’t usually agree with Mr. Rowlands views but in this case I think he hit the nail on the head. Councilor Marchand made the argument that because he knows the business owners personally, and they are great people the petition should pass. He had other arguments as well, but none as flawed as that one.

Another argument is that since there is a doctor on the street already and a couple other businesses in the area, the day spa will fit in nicely. Wrong! Sure this particular street (Orchard St) has a few businesses on or around it and a day spa may fit in nicely but what about some of the residential neighborhoods on the other side of town with no businesses at all? What happens when day spas start to pop up there? Then somebody else will come before the council to explain that because there is already a day spa in the neighborhood they want to open a tanning salon. The two businesses could work well together. Next somebody wants to open a hair salon, a nail salon, a Curves…you get the point. Where does it end???

Should the City Council set this type of precedent? Are they opening the door for many other types of businesses to come before them wanting to open up in a residential area? If one type of business is allowed and not another is that grounds for a lawsuit? It probably isn’t but as the saying goes…anybody can be sued at anytime for an reason.

Beyond the merits of the petition and the somewhat intelligent debate, another issue came up during the meeting. The councilors, in front of a live audience and in front of a televised audience, started to count their votes and actually tried to manipulate the process when it was discovered that there may not be enough votes to swing the decision one way or another. Now I don’t know about legality, but at a minimum you have to question the ethics and the integrity of the councilors involved…

In short it went down like this…

(FYI…I have read between the lines of what was actually said so you can see what they meant to say)

Councilor Rowlands makes a motion to give leave to withdraw without prejudice. Motion is denied.

Councilor Dombrowski makes a motion to grant the petition…discussion follows

Councilor Rosa brings up the fact that Councilor Lanciani is not there so since we need a 2/3 vote of the council to pass the petition, we may need his vote (this is where I read between the lines)

Discussion….

Councilor Dombrowski decides to change his motion to further time

Councilor Freda thinks the whole process is flawed and treading on illegal and unethical. Thank you Claire for speaking out against what you saw happening…

Councilor Tocci opens her mouth for the first time since joining the council and publicly accuses Councilor Dombrowski of doing what everyone else there knew he was doing but were afraid to admit.

more discussion…the council argues, banters, looks like fools…Councilor President Marchand loses control of the council for a minute but quickly brings the group back under control.

more discussion…

The initial motion to pass is withdrawn and a motion is made to give further time

Motion passes…

For the first time in history, as far as Councilor Freda knows…the councilors successfully manipulated the outcome of the petition and now the deciding vote on whether or not this petition ultimately passes is in the hands of Councilor Lanciani who was not present at the meeting due to unknown circumstances.

Am I the only one who thinks this is funny? These are the people elected to represent us as citizens…

So for now the fate of the Day Spa is hanging in the balance. How many phone calls and emails are there going to pass between the councilors over the next two weeks about this petition creating a violation of the open meeting laws?

For the record, I am against this petition passing because of the simple reason that it sets bad precedent. I don’t care about a day spa opening up next door to my house but I do care about the next business that wants to open up on the other side of me since there is already a day spa on my street…

Does this type of thing happen anywhere else or just in Leominster?

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