GREENFIELD — After losing its approval from the Greenfield Board of License Commissioners, American Knight Transportation has moved from 357 Main St.
The city’s Board of Licensing Commissioners refused to renew Richard Haste’s business license at the end of 2021 and he removed his business assets from the location last month, switching to a mobile business. Haste, a Bronx native who has worked in the transportation industry for 40 years, moved American Knight Transportation to Greenfield in November 2019.
Danielle Letourneau, the mayor’s chief of staff who is also director of general administration and oversees licensing, said licensing commissioners refused to renew Haste’s business license for numerous reasons. She said Haste failed to have her drivers checked by the Greenfield Police Department as required, failed to pay her $50 annual dues, failed to have a workers’ compensation affidavit or workers’ insurance certificate, and had no proof of insurance for his four Vehicles.
Letourneau said she worked extensively with Haste to try to help her with these issues, but to no avail.
“We wanted him to comply,” she said. “We didn’t want him to close or leave or move.”
Haste, however, believes city officials have “the wrong idea of what my company actually does.”
“They are trying to push me to get taxi licenses for my drivers,” he said. “My drivers are not taxi drivers by industry standards.”
Haste said his business is not a taxi service but a livery, which he says means customers have to make reservations and can’t just hail a driver. But Letourneau said Greenfield requires a business like Haste’s — if registered within the city limits — to have a rental vehicle license. City ordinances define a vehicle for hire as “any vehicle used or intended to be used as a taxicab, livery or limousine vehicle”.
Haste, however, said “it’s not possible” and that these types of businesses are different, adding that he believes the city should update its ordinances.
He also said the state offers different definitions for these two types of businesses. According to state law, the Motor Vehicle Registry defines livery vehicles as “any limousine or other vehicle designed to carry 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, and carries passengers for rental, business courtesy , employee shuttle, customer shuttle, charter or other pre-arranged transportation, and which vehicle is not required to obtain a taxi license under state law.
Echoing his justification for his drivers not needing rental vehicle permits, Haste claimed he does not need police to check his drivers because he operates a livery service. He said his drivers are independent contractors whom he pays in cash and they have all waived their right to workers’ compensation. He also said he paid the $50 annual fee as soon as he learned it was due.
“The problem is the city’s lack of knowledge, combined with the police’s lack of knowledge,” he said.
Greenfield Police Lt. Dan McCarthy agreed with Létourneau regarding what the city ordinances require.
“There are rules for a reason,” he said.
American Knight Transportation remains operational and calls to 413-586-5466 and 413-774-5466 are being forwarded to Haste’s cell phone. Haste said its former fleet of four vehicles had been reduced to just one.
Isaac and Angela Mass are the owners of the 357 Main St. storefront vacated by American Knight. Isaac Mass said the space is being cleaned up to make it ready for rent.
Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.