EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 25, 2013

Plaistow selectmen upset over lack of enforcement

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — For several years, the town has seen trees cut down and concrete poured on its property without permission.

S&R Construction has been cited twice for encroaching on town property, a 3.4-acre lot off Newton Road, that abuts the company’s property.

Some selectmen think more action should have been taken.

Soon, the issue may be moot because the town is putting the property up for sale — and the offender may buy it.

“I’m disappointed this has been ongoing for so long,” Selectman Daniel Poliquin said. “This was brought to the attention of the code enforcement officer quite a few years ago.”

The town has notified S&R Construction that they are in violation, but no action has been taken beyond that, according to Chief Building Officer Mike Dorman.

“We notified them in 2011 and at that time we were discussing whether or not to sell the properties,” Dorman said. “ We got the impression at that time, that these might be sold and perhaps they may buy it. That’s why it still sitting as it is.”

But Poliquin said that decision may have devalued the property.

“Some of the actions that were done there are irreparable,” he said.

The town issued a second written notice to the company earlier this month.

A representative from S&R Construction said the company would not be commenting on the issue.

At a selectmen’s meeting last week, Selectman Michelle Curran said she heard about the problems on the property at a Conservation Commission meeting more than a year ago.

“I am concerned that we have not made the abutters fix what they have done,” Curran said last week. “I am more concerned that we are doing this knowing that the abutters want the land and have violated our land.”

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the company has expressed interest in buying the property,

“We have not turned away from the responsibilities that we have,” Fitzgerald said. “We have spent a lot of time addressing environmental issues in town. It wouldn’t be fair to cast aspersions on efforts to address town properties.”

But Fitzgerald said the prospect of the construction company buying the land affected the town’s response to the issue.

“Over the last few years, I have identified the improper use of the properties, and have always thought that at some point, we’ll address these since these are properties of interest and we have known the abutters have had interest in purchasing the property,” he said at last week’s meeting.

Last week, selectmen voted, 3-2, to send out a request for proposal with intentions of selling the land in question. The move wouldn’t obligate the town to sell the property. The land was assessed at $28,030 in 2012.

Curran and Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Gray both voted against the action.

Poliquin said he voted for the RFP because he wanted to see what interest the property would generate.

“I want to see what type of interest is generated,” he said. “It would show us who is interested and what type of project is involved.”

Poliquin said he is frustrated with what he believes has been a growing trend in town.

“I don’t want to sweep this under the rug anymore,” he said yesterday. “If (Dorman) notices something going on that’s not permitted, he should be dealing with that. “