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The Ayer Zoning board of Appeals on Tuesday, Aug. 15, voted to overturn a cease and desist order against the parking of semi-tractors in residential zones. This obviously means that semi-tractors can be parked legally in any yard and started and run at any time of the day or night in the town of Ayer.

This was brought to the board’s attention by an absentee landlord who was given a formal letter by the zoning enforcement officer concerning a semi-tractor being parked on his property in an A2 zone in town. The zoning officer stated that the bylaw does not specifically allow the parking of a semi in a residential zone and quoted Table IV-4 that specifically prohibits commercial parking areas in all residential zones.

It is quite obvious, from this appeals board decision, that Ayer sorely needs a more specific bylaw to outlaw this practice.

Anyone who has heard trucks running or braking on the highways or in industrial zones must realize the noise and pollution that this causes. It is certainly not something that is conducive to a quiet neighborhood.

The absentee landlord has admitted to driving by on various occasions and not seeing or hearing anything offensive. He doesn’t live in the neighborhood so he doesn’t experience the problem, nor obviously care about the effects on the neighborhood. The semi-tractor parked in the neighborhood does not have a regular schedule of leaving and returning, so this noise often happens as early as 5 a.m. and after 9:30 at night.

It has been heard idling many times for long periods of time. Its exhaust fumes penetrate homes. The air brakes are released causing additional noise. This is the only mode of transportation that this individual has; so the truck is used as a day-to-day vehicle as well.

At his own admission, the absentee landlord has stated that his own residence abuts an industrial zone and he hears this all the time. The property owners who live in the neighborhood in question are miles from any industrial zone. These residents bought their homes many years ago, when there were no absentee landlords in the immediate area and certainly no semi-tractors parked in driveways.

The consequences of this decision bring up many questions including: Why would this absentee landlord want to cause this blight on an A2 neighborhood? Why isn’t there bylaw protection against this practice in the town of Ayer? Why does the Zoning Board of Appeals and the zoning enforcement officer differ on the interpretation of the current bylaws?

This has now become not just a problem for a small, once-quiet neighborhood, but a town-wide problem that could cause dire consequences; the most severe being a drop in property values. Who would want to buy a house with this blight in a residential zone? It is imperative that a bylaw be written and approved as soon as possible.

It is my hope that other residents will see the consequences to the town of Ayer and act accordingly.




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