SHIRLEY — During a two-hour public hearing Monday night that is set to continue on April 17, selectmen heard from residents who are fed up with the constant noise, dust, truck fumes and heavy, speeding traffic generated by Insurance Auto Auctions, a salvage yard on Going Road.
As a company representative explained, it’s a noisy business by default, with daily deliveries of wrecked vehicles to the lot, usually by tow trucks from area firms the company contracts with.
He and the company’s attorney, Mark Donahue, characterized owner Dan O’Leary as striving to be a good neighbor. The company has a “relationship” with towers coming in, it has none with those going out, Donahue said.
Residents said large carrier trucks create the worst nuisance: idling overnight, blocking driveways and roads, backing into driveways, speeding through neighborhoods — Center, Parker and Walker Roads, in particular — at all hours. Robert Adam and Ron Benet live in those areas and both spoke about truck traffic problems.
According to the company, carrier drivers set their own pickup schedules and don’t deal directly with I.A.A.. Those contractors are hired by buyers whose transactions are completed, the spokesmen said. They come from all over the country and may arrive after the yard is closed.
“How do you not know who’s picking up?” asked Mary Sullivan, of Parker Road. “Why is that such a mystery?”
She suggested I.A.A. “make arrangements” during business hours.
The spokesmen pointed out that I.A.A. has cut off access to the biggest trucks, such as 10-car carriers, they said.
The company said its success hinges on turnover, with auctions every Friday.
Neighbors and other town residents say they are subjected to yard dust, noise at night, fumes from idling trucks, late arrivals, early morning wake-ups and virtually no peace and quiet, even on weekends.
“When they filed for a license in 2011, they stated the business hours would be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 to 12 on Saturday, closed Sunday,” said Bill Wessells, of 298 Great Road.
The hubub starts early in the morning and go on long after closing time, and on Sundays, he said.
Annette Bergeron, of 6 Going Road, said she lives with persistent noise, even indoors. Having coffee outdoors, in her own yard on a fine spring morning is out of the question, she said. Trucks from the salvage yard next door have blocked the road. She and Wessells said the situation has improved with the public hearing pending.
Selectman Holly Haase said the board received several letters citing problems with I.A.A. She has said the company hasn’t been a good neighbor and residents’ sworn testimony pointed the same way.
Donahue defined “business hours” as applicable to the office only, while activity in the yard must be more open-ended. Neither the license nor town bylaws limit operating hours, he said.
Selectman Debra Flagg disputed that. If the business is closed at 5, that’s it, “done,” she said and if drivers know ahead of time, they can plan to arrive on time. She questioned why tow truck drivers have keys to open the gate after hours.
Company representatives said idling trucks are not dropping off wrecks but waiting to pick them up when the lot opens.
Chairman Enrico Cappucci said early arrivals should be directed to another area. And he said he expects action to back up promises.
For example, when he spotted trucks after hours at Mohawk Motors next door, he called the owner, who said he’d take care of it right away and assured him it won’t happen again, Cappucci said.
O’Leary, the I.A.A. salvage yard owner, listed steps he has taken. A security company has been hired to check the premises at intervals all day, every day and he plans to add cameras. And the company website directs truck traffic to reach the facility via numbered state and interstate routes, avoiding town streets.
However, as Donahue pointed out, that’s only an advisory, because they are all public roads.
But the trucks have not only ignored travel directives, they have exceeded speed limits, blocked roads and driveways, trespassed on private property and idled overnight, all of which are against the law.
Police Chief Samuel Santiago and Officer Bill McGuinness said those rules are broken frequently.
McGuinness said he has spotted carrier trucks speeding across Center Road and he pulled them over. One arrest and several citations followed.
Santiago also alerted State Police, which have a special unit to deal with car carriers. The MSP reports over 100 such stops, he said.
I.A.A. has operated at 2 Going Road for seven years. It has a Class II license to sell used motor vehicles and a Class III license to store and sell junk vehicles. The latter license was renewed in December 2017.
Town Counsel Greg Corbo, of KP Law, said the board may take no action, suspend or revoke the license, or amend it with conditions.
Corbo said there are three issues: hours of pickups and dropoffs, differing hours for the lot and office, and idling engines.
“Those three conditions create a nuisance … and it appears that the license holder interprets business hours as different than the board does.” Corbo said.
Unless these issues can be worked out, I.A.A.’s location on Going Road may not be a “suitable,” place to do business, he said, citing a condition stipulated in the license.
The hearing was continued to April 17.