SHIRLEY -- Selectmen at their meeting Monday night renewed the Class II license for Warila Auto Repair and Sales, 200 Ayer Road.
Typically a routine matter, this time the board's okay came with a caveat. After some discussion and input from the business owner, the three members voted to attach a condition to the license renewal, calling for a review in six months. Their caution hinges on the outcome of a three-year-old criminal case involving owner David J. Warila.
When Warila appeared in Ayer District Court in 2014, he faced multiple drug and other charges stemming from a police investigation and a joint-agency raid on the business in November, 2014.
According to a Nashoba newspaper story published in December, 2014, several law enforcement agencies were involved in the raid, including DEA, FBI, state and local police. It also listed the charges. Court documents at that time showed that Warila, then 57, was charged with an array of serious, drug-related offenses, including trafficking in heroin/morphine/opium; distribution and possession of Class B and Class C drugs and intent to distribute B,C and D-class drugs, plus improper storage of a firearm, possession of a firearm without an FID card and carrying a dangerous weapon. Bail was set at $500,000 surety/$50,000 cash.
Warila considers the matter all but settled. "That shouldn't be an issue," he said when Selectman Enrico Cappucci brought it up.
Warila countered that the board shouldn't withhold his license on that basis. "I'm innocent" until proven otherwise, he said.
Chairman Holly Haase said the board didn't aim to deny the license, only to attach a condition, as discussed. Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said the move was within the board's purview.
But the board also had other concerns, such as the line-up of junk cars Selectman Debra Flagg said she's seen parked in front of the building. "How many vehicles are you licensed for?" she asked.
Warila said he's allowed up to 24 vehicles, which he stores, fixes and sells on site. Cappucci noted complaints about vehicles linked to the business being parked across the street by the railroad tracks.
"Is that a problem?" Warila asked. "Who complained? I have a right to know."
Cappucci said the problem was that Warila does not own that land and can't use it as a parking lot. Reminded that his business is in a residential area, Warila said his property is "grandfathered,for a business" but he's responsive to neighbors' concerns. Like the junk cars Flagg mentioned and overflow parking across the street, which he promised to address.
"If you have a problem with it, I'll clean it up right away," he said. And other than registered vehicles belonging to people who come and go from the business, he won't park his vehicles across the road.