SHIRLEY — Insurance Auto Auctions, of Going Road, is causing a lot of neighborhood headaches, according to one of its Great Road neighbors. Bill Wessells, who lives across the street from the business, told the selectmen Monday night that he has had enough — and he’s not the only one.
At a previous public hearing to renew IAA’s license that none of its neighbors apparently knew about, since they didn’t show up, the business owner, Dan O’Leary and his attorney assured the selectmen they would abide by rules spelled out in the license, Chairman Enrico Capppuci said, including operating hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, closed Sunday. And they promised the board that if overlaps occurred, activity in the yard would not extend past 8 p.m.
Wessells said that’s simply not true. “This is about after hours operation,” he told the board, describing a virtually non-stop pick-up and drop-off cycle that sets its own hours, in effect, 24/7.
The persistent, pervasive rumble and racket of huge, exhaust-spewing car carriers delivering wrecks to the yard at all hours or loading up to cart them away and the piercing beep of backup alarms starts as early as 5 a.m. most days and often goes on all night, Wessells said, along with the constant sound of truck engines left idling overnight as drivers sleep in nearby motel units.
“The truck noise is awful,” Wessells said. “You can never relax.” And things have gone from bad to worse, with disrupted sleep just the tip of this iceberg. In warm weather, people close their windows to keep out the dust and noise, he said, and forget about sitting outside on a summer evening.
Wessells and his neighbors need relief, he said and all they are asking for now is that the town take action to enforce common sense rules that the business has agreed to abide by but does not.
“The noise keeps us awake,” he said, adding that the police have been called numerous times and they always respond. “I have written complaints from the neighbors,” he said.
Police Chief Samuel Santiago, present at the meeting on another matter, confirmed Wessell’s story. He also noted over 100 traffic citations state police have issued to car carrier drivers traveling to and from the salvage yard.
Selectman Holly Haase said that Insurance Auto Auctions has not been a good neighbor overall. There have been complaints from other areas of town about the huge, heavy car carriers careening through their neighborhoods at all hours, she said, speeding and tearing up the roads, despite access routes the business had agreed to but which the drivers did not follow.
A Center Road resident backed up that assertion. “We sent a letter…with 25 signatures” he said.
Cappucci agreed that something must be done. “This is not acceptable,” he said. “We will do everything we can.” He said the board raised the noise issue at IAA’s license renewal hearing and questioned its hours of operation as well. “We thought we had an agreement….” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t.”
Cappucci also said he’d spoken with town counsel – KP Law – and that one of the attorneys there specializes in problems like this. “He said we need to properly address this,” he said. By the book, in other words. To that end, the board has scheduled a public hearing for April 2.
The date gives the business time to respond to the complaints, and for Wessells to alert his neighbors. “Nobody came to the last hearing,” Cappucci said.
“We did want to be there,” Wessells said, tracing a series of miscues and communication gaps. He spoke to the former administrative assistant under the former Town Administrator, for example, who told him that he’d be notified when a hearing date had been set.
“Nobody called me,” he said.