AGAWAM — At a Nov. 20 meeting, City Councilor Robert Rossi pointed to inefficiencies and oversights in the town’s business licensing system.

He said automobile dealer licenses are being delayed because of clerical errors, such as failure to check boxes on forms.

“These licenses are going to have to come back, so we can read these licenses, understand what they say so we can make a determination intelligently about whether or not we want to renew these licenses,” he said.

Earlier, the council, at the recommendation of the Administrative Committee, tabled two orders granting Class 2 dealer’s licenses to Chris Auto South and Parrotta’s Auto Service Inc.

Councilor Paul Cavallo, vice chair of the Administrative Committee, said both dealerships were cited for the overcrowding of cars in their lots. A building inspector hired by the town will inspect the businesses, get their side of the story, then report back to the committee.

“We haven’t refused them a license, we just said there’s something you have to clean up here,” he said.

Cavallo said the town has done this before and hopes both cases can be resolved.

At the council meeting, Rossi said one of the overcrowded dealerships is a dealer and repair business. He said the law allows businesses to receive dealer’s licenses if that is their primary business, not coupled with another. He said the council has been doing that since before he was elected.

As well, he took issue with a decision from the Nov. 8 meeting to grant a dealer’s license that applies retroactively to January 2023. The dealer — 57 Auto LLC — had been late to apply due to unnamed hardship. Rossi had voted “no” on granting that license. At the Nov. 20 meeting, he said that decision set a bad precedent.

“This has opened Pandora’s box,” he said. “Any car dealership now who comes in late is going to say ‘Well, you did it for someone else. Why can’t you do it for me?’ That’s going to put a big burden on our Law Department when we go to court.”

Rossi said the council is going to continue to have problems with licenses in the future.

“We have to sit down at some point and decide what we’re going to do with these licenses to try and get them more into compliance, so we can regain some control on this stuff,” he said.
Rossi hopes that the building inspector can give a specific report on the overcrowded lots, detailing which cars are to be repaired and which will be sold. He is unsure how the inspector will tell the difference but hopes for the best.

New town park

The City Council approved a resolution to spend a dollar to acquire 50 acres of land for a new town park. The land, originally owned by the family trust of John C. Tate, lies between Silver and Adams streets, to the west of Birch Hill Road. The town plans to name it John C. Tate Memorial Park. It will feature walking trails, and the town plans to build a parking lot. The dollar spent on the land will come from Community Preservation Act funds.

Both the councilors and Agawam residents praised the family trust for offering the land.

“I’m just so grateful to them and I appreciate it,” said Corinne Wingard at Citizen’s Speak Time. “I’m sure you all will vote to accept it and thank you for that.”

“It’s a great gift on Thanksgiving week,” added Councilor George Bitzas. “Thank you to the family for doing that.”

The resolution was approved with 10 “yes” votes and 0 “no” votes. Councilor Cecilia Calabrese was absent.

The council also approved 10-0 a resolution to purchase for a dollar a small parcel off Riverview Avenue. Also originally owned by the John C. Tate family trust, this parcel covers a sliver of undeveloped grassland along the Connecticut River behind Six Flags New England. There are no immediate plans to use the parcel.

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