WOBURN - The City Council recently challenged the idea that a dog groomer could move into a ground-floor storefront of a mixed-use building off of Central Street by the new Goodyear School in East Woburn.
During their latest gathering in City Hall, the City Council technically eliminated their involvement in the proposed business venture launch by allowing petitioner Lefty's Place LLC to withdraw a special permit application for the business use at 52 Central Street.
However, before that unanimous vote was taken, both Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen and Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately assured a concerned abutter that they would be staying abreast of developments regarding the petitioner's pursuit of building permits for the pet grooming business as a by-right use.
According to Mercer-Bruen, whose district includes the mixed-use building, the petitioner, identified in corporate records as Salisbury resident Devin Young, is being represented by local attorney Mark Salvati. The property itself is reportedly owned by Medford resident Robert Giacobelli, who told the council he recently purchased the structure after being told that the first-floor retail space could rely upon on-street parking spaces that have since been classified as off-limits due to the Montvale Avenue widening project.
"He's going to pursue it by-right, which means this won't come back before this council. But by ordinance, he still has to follow the rules within that zone," said Mercer-Bruen.
"I know the building very well and there's no parking. What baffles me is they think they can put this there. That is a BN (business neighborhood) zone. He's trying to say its an industrial business (BI) zone. It's not," Gately later remarked.
Situated at the corner of Montvale Avenue, the two-story building presently contains upper-level apartments and an approximate 1,000 square foot storefront on the ground floor that was long used as a sandwich shop. The space since has also been used by a daycare business operator.
The structure, which dates back to 1940 and has a total gross square footage of 6,497 square feet, sits on a corner lot that sits directly across the street from Montvale Avenue's TD Bank Branch.
Under normal circumstances, the council would be reluctant to get involved in a business matter after a proposed to withdraw a special permit application without prejudice is filed, as the issuance of building permits and the interpretation of the zoning ordinances falls falls exclusively into the realm of Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn.
However, both Mercer-Bruen and Gately waded into the debate after neighborhood abutter Marian Pizzi Lentine expressed a number of concerns about the petition.
According to Lentine, she owns the adjacent three-unit apartment building at 277 Montvale Avenue, and she is worried the petitioner's business use will interfere with the joint use of a parking area that residential tenants from both properties rely upon.
City records maintained by the assessor's office show that Lentine is the sole owner of that vacant parcel, which includes a driveway that runs between 277 Montvale and the Montvale Avenue side of 52 Central Street.
Her neighbor also shares the parking area under a parking easement granted to Giacobelli when he purchased the mixed-use property at 52 Central St.
"They don't have any parking for that building at all. So my concerns are about parking and dogs doing their business in my yard," said Lentine. "My tenants use that driveway to get in and out, and with my tenants, there's already five cars [there]."
According to Mercer-Bruen, she was confident that Quinn would ensure that all relevant zoning rules are applied when the dog groomer seeks building permits. She also promised to keep Lentine appraised of the situation.
"As I explained to Marian, even as a by-right use, it has to adhere to all the parking requirements, setbacks, and things like that. Your concerns should be addressd by the [zonng ordinance] and you should contact the building commissioner," the Ward 5 alderman said. "I will keep you in the loop every step of the way. "
Giacobelli also addressed the council during the discussion and asked for some clarification on the status of the on-street parking spaces along Montvale Avenue. Earlier in the week, the police department was reportedly notified about a backup along the roadway being caused by vehicles pried by the intersection near his property, and authorities reportedly notified area residents that public parking in the area is temporarily forbidden.
The Medford resident also suggested the council hear directly from the Salisbury dog groomers about their business plans, but the council ignored that suggestion.
According to Ward 6 Alderman Edward Tedesco, since the request before them called for a withdrawal of the petition, the council should not interject itself into a matter that would soon fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of the bullding commissioner.