At a public hearing at Monday night’s Town Council meeting, Attorney Patricia Panciocco requested and received a 60-day extension for Edward Dudek’s Murray’s Auto Recycling junkyard license. The junkyard is on Hall Road.
She said she understood that a court order was involved, and said there “were some new ideas floated by my client.”
The Council instructed Panciocco that during the extension, all of the conditions of the license would remain in effect, not just the court order requiring there be no equipment outside the fence, but also the hours of operation of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and no late deliveries. In addition, all crushed vehicles must be stored lower than the fence and therefore not visible from the road.
The consensus of the Council present – Tom Freda, John Farrell and Chairman Tom Dolan – was in favor, with Joe Green opposed.
Building Inspector Richard Canuel said he had investigated a number of complaints against Murray’s.
“It has come down to three determining factors regarding non-compliance with conditions of the license,” Canuel said. “One of them has to do with stacking vehicles above the fence, which was a matter of contention during last year’s hearings as well. Another is the hours of operation, and the third is with the parking of equipment in the front lot.”
He said the stacking issue had been addressed as a result of an enforcement notice from Canuel’s office. “Those vehicles are now below the top line of the fence,” he said.
The hours of operation had been looked at by town counsel, and noted the delivery of vehicles is part of the operation of the business. Canuel said it was determined that no vehicles can be delivered before 8 a.m. or later than 5 p.m. He said that currently “Dudek is operating within best management practices.
“The third item has to do with the parking of equipment in the front parking lot,” he said. “As part of the stipulation of decree in 2000, there were distinct stipulations of what can and cannot be done in that front lot, and one of them was that there shall be no equipment parked in that front lot.”
Canuel said that included flatbed trucks or vehicles used for the junkyard business.
All of the issues had been brought to Dudek’s attention during the past year, Canuel said.
Freda asked Canuel if complaints were enough to issue a citation or if Canuel had to see the violation himself, and Canuel said he or a police officer or some other credible person had to see a violation.
“What the complaint does is start an investigation, and a determination is made from that,” Canuel explained.
Resident Richard Bielinski said he had been complaining about the parking in front of the business for years. He produced a photograph that he said was taken that day, which shows the tops of vehicles visible above the top of the entrance gate, and a flatbed truck parked in the front lot.
He also said Dudek did not have the required permits to be in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), as previously reported by the Londonderry Times, and noted Dudek was being sued by the Citizen Law Foundation of Vermont because of the lack of permits.
Green said the CWA required permits before a license could be renewed, adding, ‘So that’s a problem.”
Resident Claudet Adams said late deliveries were made to Murray’s and noted that Dudek wasn’t observing the required hours of operation.
She also complained that they had received a subpoena to appear in court a few years ago but had not been given enough time to hire an attorney, yet Dudek “appeared fully prepared with his attorney and was well represented.”
Resident Dana Coons said he drives by the business several times a day and in his opinion, compared to the other junkyards in town, he finds Murray’s “much more pleasing” visually.
“Have I seen trucks there? Yes, either making deliveries or doing paperwork or things like that. That’s part of his business,” Coons said. “There’s going to be trucks parked there. Have I seen any parked there overnight? No.”
The Council by a 3-1 consensus extended Dudek’s license until the Aug. 11 Town Council meeting.
In other business, license renewals were granted to two other junkyards – Londonderry Salvage and S&S Metals.
Green raised the issue of whether deciduous trees in front of S&S Metals should be considered a screen because in winter they lose their leaves. Dolan requested that Canuel view the area in winter to verify that the trees screened the property. “It’s a judgment call,” Dolan said.