WOBURN - Demanding the petitioner first fulfill the terms of its original special permit, the City Council refused to entertain a request from a Green Street landscaper to stash extra vehicles, materials, and equipment at its South End lot.
In the face of substantial pushback from the council, Black Diamond Landscapes ultimately agreed to withdraw its request for various special permit modifications.
During the recent gathering in City Hall, local attorney Joseph Tarby, representing the petitioner, explained his client was hoping to address a series of compliance issues surrounding the business operations at 9 Green St. by amending its Feb. of 2020 special permit.
“We’d like to do things you’d normally see in a landscaping yard, for example the storage of mulch and stone on pallets for landscaping jobs. They’d like to store tools and equipment there,” said Tarby.
“We did go out there a few months ago with [Building Commissioner] Thomas Quinn and went over everything that needs to be resolved. As a result, we filed this modification request,” the Rubin and Rudman law partner added.
Veteran City Councilors like Ward 2’s Richard Gately and Ward 5’s Darlene Mercer-Bruen, reiterating that the business is asking for permission to enlarge its yard activities only after being declared last summer by Quinn to be in non-compliance of its original permit, scoffed at the request.
“This business, what’s been going on down there ever since they’ve started, is not [adhering to] the original conditions of the special permit. They’re working on Saturdays and Sundays. The use down there, you could choke a horse. The neighbors are complaining continuously about trucks going up and down Green Street,” said Gately.
“I don’t think there’s any chance of getting this amended if he’s not doing what we asked him to do in the first place. It’s not going well down there,” added the South End official, whose district includes the Green Street site.
Formerly used by an auto repair shop, the property in question contains roughly .23-acres of land and sits about halfway between Green Street’s intersections with Main Street and Prospect Street.
Black Diamond Landscapes, which was previously headquartered in Arlington, moved into the approximate 2,400 square foot building on the small lot about two years ago after obtaining permission from the council to park several commercial vehicles on the site overnight.
Because the South End property contains several non-conforming features, the council in the winter of 2020 also had to sanction the new landscaping use itself, which would have otherwise been allowed by-right within the underlying industrial zoning district.
As a condition of granting that original special permit, the city officials hinged several limitations on the business’ day-to-day operations, such as a prohibition on late night work activity.
According to Tarby, with business at Black Diamond Landscapes thriving, his client is looking to settle neighborhood complaints about late night work activity, parking issues, and odd material delivery times by expanding on-site storage capabilities.
However, given the number of complaints about the business, which was last summer deemed by the building department to be violating the terms of its special permit, Mercer-Bruen all but demanded that the petitioner withdraw the latest proposal.
“You know as well as I do that if people don’t follow the rules the first time around, it’s very unlikely they will when you give them more,” said the Ward 5 councilor. “I don’t even think we should send this to committee. I think the petitioner should withdraw this request and we should be reviewing the existing special permit.”
City Council President Michael Concannon later suggested that the Special Permits Committee could still demand the petitioner come into compliance with the spirit of the original special permit while still considering the newly proposed amendments.
However, given Gately’s preference that the current petition either be withdrawn or dismissed outright until corrective action is taken, the council ultimately deferred to the neighborhood representative’s judgement.
“Given what I’ve heard tonight, I would recommend to my client that we request leave to withdraw without prejudice,” responded Tarby.
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