NO ON YALE – LEGAL & OTHER UPDATES

November 2020

Legal Case
The lawsuit to stop the project continues. The group has hired expert witnesses to buttress the claim that the MHA proposed facility has medical as a primary use. If this position is accepted as the intended use, then this is in violation of Holyoke’s current zoning regulations and the permit will be rescinded. MHA has requested and been granted additional time to prepare expert witness reports, this has been granted until December 31, 2020. The next case hearing is scheduled for January 5, 2021 by conference call and is open to the public. We urge any interested parties to listen in. Here you can read the Landcourt docket The case number is: 19 MISC 000557.

COVID 19 impacts to the Yale Street Project
As we are all now very aware COVID 19 has changed the world around us and how we live. We are all keenly aware of the loss of 87 souls at the Holyoke Soldiers Home due to COVID-19. This loss of life has been repeated throughout the country in congregate living facilities. The CDC has issued new guidance for congregate living facilities. Are the city and MHA ignoring this guidance with regard to the Yale Street project? Doing so will endanger the lives of both the occupants and create more community spread in a city already in crisis. This issue was raised in a letter that Holyoke resident Scott DeFelice sent to the Holyoke Board of Health Director, Sean Gonsalves, Mayor Morse and the Holyoke City Council and he also presented in public comment at a City Council meeting. The letter has initiated a joint public hearing of the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board, which will likely happen in January or February 2021. Councilor Rebecca Lisi is the Chair of the Ordinance Committee – We encourage you to contact Councilor Lisi and request that a date be set for this hearing. Councilor Lisi can be contacted at: rebecca@votelisi.com

As has now been made public, criminal charges have been made against the Holyoke Soldiers Home leadership, further highlighting the risk to the city, should there be loss of life at an MHA facility due to negligence. We should be clear that the city has financial exposure that would be a direct burden to taxpayers in the case of a successful claim against the city. To support the cause it would be very helpful if anyone sharing the concerns in this letter write to the Mayor and City Council accordingly. Contact information can be found on this page.

Safe Communities need Safe Zoning
Zoning Ordinances are designed to balance the needs of economic development and public safety. When either for-profit or nonprofit developers seek to monetize our community at the public’s expense, we should as citizens stand firm in opposition to these actions. Our current zoning forbids the MHA development on Yale Street. It is deeply unfortunate that our current political leadership, with the exception of a few city councilors, have put political expediency ahead of their obligation to enforce existing law.   

Summary of Current Situation
As many of you are aware, as a result of a fire on Fairfield Avenue last year, the city discovered that our fire hydrant water distribution system has failed and requires major upgrades over the next two years for many city neighborhoods, including Yale Street. MHA has requested that the city pay 100% of the cost for upgrading the Yale Street section and that this section be prioritized. It is our understanding that the Water Commission declined this request which came to them from the mayor. The mayor and MHA are fighting very hard to put precious taxpayer funds into a project that is in violation of our current zoning laws, that will seriously undermine property values in the neighborhood and further reduce tax revenue, all while endangering public safety. Unfortunately, this is what we have come to expect from our mayor and the recent election results strongly indicate that Holyoke citizens have had quite enough of this leadership.

Please take action: Let our city leaders and officials know that you demand they do EVERYTHING in their power to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of all residents and workers in Holyoke. Stay safe, stay well and stay home if you can.