Things got rather heated during New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell’s weekly appearance on WBSM on Wednesday, when City Councilman General Brian Gomes challenged Mitchell’s veto on council’s approval of a waiver of residence for a pawnshop owner who would operate next to the proposed methadone. downtown clinic.
The residency waiver was necessary because the new owner of the Fall River Pawnbrokers location at 268 Union Street is not a resident of the city and city code requires pawnshop operators to live in the city or obtain a residency waiver.
A proposed medical clinic that would offer methadone, Vivitrol and other addiction resources is planned for the same building, as its parent company Recovery Connection Centers of America seeks a special permit from the Zoning Appeals Board. of New Bedford to operate downtown. location.
Mitchell vetoes residency waiver
In a letter to city council dated Oct. 24, Mayor Mitchell vetoed the residency waiver, saying the location “is immediately adjacent to the site where a proposed drug treatment center would be located.”
“I am concerned that the co-location of these two uses increases the possibility of illicit activity in their general vicinity,” Mitchell wrote. “I believe that before the City approves the residency waiver application, Council’s public safety committee should thoroughly analyze the public safety risks that these two businesses together pose to the neighborhood.”
The city council voted to override the mayor’s veto but took no action on it.
Mitchell takes New Bedford City Council to task
During his weekly appearance on WBSM, Mitchell reiterated that he thinks the board should have had a discussion about the two companies operating side-by-side, rather than just discussing the legality of his veto.
“There was obviously no discussion at city council about it, so I said you need to go back and discuss it,” Mitchell said of the veto. “Instead of doing this, the city council just said you don’t have the legal power to veto this waiver of residency for the pawnshop owner, so our position is that the waiver of the residency is valid so he can go ahead and do his thing and we’re not going to discuss that further.
“In my opinion, it was not responsible on their part,” he said. “There should be more deliberation on this matter, and so we are considering our legal options here.”
Gomes challenges Mitchell over Council actions
Councilor Gomes then called him to challenge Mitchell on his characterization of the vote.
“The mayor is on the radio this morning to mislead the public about the actions of the city council and I’m not going to sit back and let him do it,” Gomes said. “He’s mixing apples with oranges.”
“When we brought this gentleman before us for a waiver for the pawnshop, he was qualified, he was running pawnshops in other places, and we’re not going to stop him from getting the license” , said Gomes.
“The mayor wants to punish the new owner because he plans to put a clinic next door. We realize we don’t want that there. I was one of the first to talk about it,” Gomes said. “But let’s not mislead people that the city council didn’t do their job, or deliberate or whatever. You returned a veto, we legally gave the license to the pawnshop, he’s in the business and may have the store, and why are you mixing with apples and oranges, sir? »
The two then went back and forth over whether the residency waiver and the proposed location of the clinic next to the store are separate issues; Gomes said the waiver vote was based solely on the plaintiff’s ability to run a pawn shop, while Mitchell argued the board shouldn’t have separated the fact that a methadone clinic is planned alongside. when making its decision.
“You have two separate things here,” Gomes said.
“No, they’re not separate,” Mitchell replied. “They’re right next to each other, Councilman.”
Listen to Councilman Gomes’ call to “Mid-Week With the Mayor” here:
Things are heating up between Mitchell and Gomes
Gomes argued that since the pawn shop already existed and the clinic was only offered, they were “two separate entities,” he said.
“We’re already addressing the issue and I really don’t think the clinic is going, but we’ll have to wait and see what the zoning board does,” he said. “But don’t just sit there and tell the people in town we didn’t do our job and check this guy out and make sure he was appropriate.”
“Thank you for your speech,” Mitchell replied. “They are literally right next to each other. They share a wall.
“The city council didn’t consider what could happen when you mix the two together,” he said. “So even if you mean they’re separated, they’re not. They’re right next to each other, they share a wall – and that’s a good question that the council didn’t even address.
Gomes objected to Mitchell’s “speech” remark.
“I am not here to make speeches. Don’t do this to me Mr. Mayor, I’m asking you, don’t do this,” he said. “I came to talk to you, don’t talk about speech. You are a man of speech.
Mitchell responded with a chuckle.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “He’s a councilman who hasn’t answered the phone for two years, so I’m happy to have all these discussions, but if you want to have discussions on the phone, on the radio, we can do that.”
“Don’t tell the people in this town that I haven’t called you in two years because I answered your call, even on a Sunday afternoon when I’m running errands when you want to give me your (spiel) on what you want to do with Hathaway Road. I answered your call,” Gomes said. “I don’t choose to answer your call because you’re not a mayor who works well with —”
“So you’re okay with not returning my calls?” Mitchell interrupted him. “So you just agreed not to return my calls.”
“What is calling? What did you call me, sir? Gomes asked. “Tell me what call you made to me. ”
“Well, I’ll call you right after the show,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy to talk to you, Brian, but you haven’t called me in two years.”
“You’ve got plenty,” Gomes replied. “You have plenty.”
“Alright, so I’ll call you right after the show,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy to chat.”
“I don’t want to chat with you. Have a great day,” Gomes said as he hung up the phone.
The New Bedford Zoning Appeal Board will hold a public meeting on Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. in the upstairs conference room of the New Bedford Free Public Library on Pleasant Street.