February 25 2016

Selectmen Hear Proposal to Increase Car Lot for Burlington Business; Abutter Claims Abusive Behavior

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen discussed, but did not vote on, a request from an independent used car dealer to increase the number of cars for sale allowed on the lot. 

 

The request was made by Burlington Motors at 177 Bedford Street. The issue arose late last year during a license review and renewal procedure after a member of the Burlington Police Department informed the board the business had been featuring more than 10 vehicles in front of the building. The license states it can only have 10 vehicles in that location. 

 

Owner Ron Esposito requested the license be changed to allow him to have 15 vehicles for sale at the same time. 

 

The board members said they would consider this and in the meantime had Town Administrator John Petrin, board Vice Chair Chris Hartling and Selectman Bob Hogan tour the business to ensure there would be sufficient room and to make recommendations on the plan. 

 

Space is reportedly difficult as the site is also storage for junk vehicles as well as home for an auto repair shop and a car detailing center, both tenants of Esposito’s. 

 

Petrin and members of the board stressed the need to have a concrete plan about what is allowed at the site. Even if they allow 15 up front, they said that if the back was filled with more cars than it can reasonably hold that would not work. They also talked about plans to clean up the site and make it more aesthetically pleasing. 

 

Esposito, and his employee Zach Fahey, said they were working to get the junk cars removed and get out of that part of the business. 

 

“We already started getting rid of them,” Fahey said. “We’re not going to take in junk anymore. All the cars back there will run and will be waiting for the auction. We’re not going to have any more cars just sitting there.” 

 

“We are going to make changes and you will see what we’re doing,” Esposito added. 

Esposito provided the selectmen with a rough site plan that called for 15 cars in front for sale, six spots for cars being serviced and 10 more behind the garage. He also said he has a site on Edwards Road where he stores six vehicles and that he stores four at the Citgo station nearby. 

 

Hogan said he understands the need for a feeder system if one of the vehicles up front is sold but stressed the need for a more definitive plan that shows exactly how they can fit all the vehicles being proposed. 

 

“We still need to work on confirming the exact number of cars,” he said. 

 

Selectman Dan Grattan said he was also concerned about ensuring that Paul’s Automobile Service, also on the site, has enough space to park customers’ vehicles. 

 

When the board asked if anyone in the audience had anything to say on the matter, an abutter stood and brought some unexpected controversy to the matter. 

 

The man identified himself as the owner of the neighboring property at 177 Bedford Street and said that Esposito had been illegally parking vehicles on his lot for years. Moreover, he said he had been unable to sell or rent the property since purchasing it six years ago, because, he claimed, Esposito had either warned potential tenants away or threatened them. 

 

He also said that after he called the police on the matter, Esposito had threatened him in a phone message. 

 

Members of the board said they would look into the matter though they didn’t want to get in the middle. 

 

“I’m not sure it’s the role of this board to mediate this,” Hartling said. “With that being said, certainly this information, which is new, is something I’d like some time to process. I’m not going to ignore what you’re saying but I’m going to have to circle back to police department.”

 

In the end the board voted 5-0-0 to continue the public hearing until the second meeting in March. In the meantime the business can continue to sell 10 vehicles in the front of the property. 

 
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