WOBURN - The City Council recently authorized several special permit modifications sought to facilitate a Boston-based seafood distributor's relocation to a Salem Street warehouse.

During their latest gathering in City Hall, Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen, whose district includes the industrial zone by the Salem Street bridge and Wildwood Avenue, explained she and Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn remain concerned about a secondary loading dock area at the former Preferred Meals building at 242 Salem St.

With Quinn reportedly suggesting the existing loading dock does not comply with Woburn's zoning regulations, local attorney Joseph Tarby, representing True Foods Boston LLC, later promised his client would not utilize that portion of the lot until some type of compromise is reached.

But in the interim, Tarby insisted, the Boston fish distributor needed permission to relocate a trash compactor and a couple of parking spaces in order to finalize its move to the city.

"There was some concern expressed about the loading dock [and our proposal to expand its size] to 24-feet. There are also concerns about whether the setbacks comply with the building code," Tarby acknowledged. "If the building commissioner has an issue with the loading dock, we'd work with him on that."

That agreement satisfied the rest of the council, including Mercer-Bruen, who later voted unanimously in favor of allowing the fresh seafood distributor to implement the minor site plan changes.

Back in December of 2020, True World Foods obtained initial permission from the City Council to move into a 1994 masonry building off of Salem Street that was originally constructed as a storage depot for Charl's Ice-Cream.

The fish supplier says its business, which for the past 40 years has entailed processing, packaging, and shipping freshly caught seafood for restaurants and other clients, is similar to the operation of Preferred Meals - the last tenant at 242 Salem St.

After granting the special permit last December, the petitioner returned looking to expand the extra loading dock area and to move a trash compactor to another part of the site.

According to Mercer-Bruen, who recently walked the Salem Street site with Quinn to understand the impact of the changes, the loading dock in question sits too close to a site driveway and should be taken out.

"The 12 by 12 loading dock that exists on the plan, I know we did approve that a while back. But I'm suggesting we ask the petitioner to eliminate that from the plans. It's not a real loading dock…It's a concrete pad that sits right on the lot line and it doesn't belong there," said Mercer-Bruen.

As part of the compromise agreed to at the latest meeting, True World Foods will not use the loading dock space at all without first receiving permission from the building department.

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