WOBURN - City officials are miffed as to why a Montvale Avenue gas station owner needs a special permit for a pre-existing auto repair shop.

During a City Council meeting in CIty Hall earlier this week, the mystery remained unsolved after representatives from 317 Montvale Avenue's BP Station failed to show up for a public hearing on their recently submitted petition.

"I'm a little confused as to what they're looking for, because they already have a special permit to do what they're asking for," said Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen.

With no one to answer those questions, the aldermen voted unanimously to continue the special permit request until its next meeting. The local officials also decided to send out a communication to the petitioner to let him know about the confusion and to ask for clarification.

Situated on the eastbound side of Montvale Avenue that heads towards Stoneham, the BP Station is situated right next to Bickford's Restaurant. The approximate .42-acre parcel includes an eight-pump petroleum station and a small concrete auto repair shop with two garage bays.

According to city records, the gas station has long been owned by New York's Leemilts Petroleum Inc., which purchased the site in 1986 for $400,000. Though it's unclear whether the property itself has changed hands, social media posts indicate a new management group has taken over the repair facility.

The special permit request was filed in early September by Marice Saba, who has rebranded the business as Montvale Auto Care. The new manager notified customers about the changeover earlier this summer.

This week, just before the council continued the deliberations, City Clerk William Campbell advised the aldermen that the auto shop's original 2008 special permit was specific to the previous garage owner.

Under such non-transferability clauses, which are routinely attached to special permits, Saba, if not affiliated with the old ownership group, would be required to seek a reauthorization of the use.

In a letter sent to the City Council late last month, City Planner Dan Orr speculated that the special permit application was submitted in error and that the petitioner is actually looking to sell used automobiles.

"It appears as though the applicant may have intended to request permission to sell or rent automobiles from the site. Staff surmises this because the plan submitted with the application has a notation identifying an area of the site as 'five spaces used cars,'" Orr noted.

Planning department staff later recommended the entire application be resubmitted and re-advertised, if that is indeed Saba's proposal.

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