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Plans for towing company totaled

Date: 10/16/2014

EAST LONGMEADOW –  At its Oct. 7 meeting the Planning Board unanimously denied a special permit for Pride Towing & Off Road Recovery, 347 Elm Street, to store towed vehicles in a residential zoned area after a public hearing that saw residents voicing both approval and concerns for the permit.

Andrew Bordoni, the permit’s petitioner, said Pride Towing & Off Road Recovery would have towed about two to three vehicles a week to the Elm Street location, which also includes Body Works Unlimited, owned by Anthony Bordoni.

“This would be a detriment to the residential neighborhood,” Planning Board Chair Michael Carabetta said. “If you were to do it in a commercial area or an area where it’s designated for [towing and storage of vehicles] it won’t be a detriment because it’s zoned for that.

“The problem is with the conditions that go with this property, anything other than a body shop, simply just won’t go,” he continued.

Steve Mercieri, a resident of Concord Drive, said in his professional opinion as a firefighter and as a community emergency medical technician that towing does add to increased noise levels.

“I deal with that all day, every day,” Mercieri added. “You require DOT (Department of Transportation) back up alarms. To say that [2 a.m., 3 a.m.,] it won’t add to noise; it will. You’re taking cars and trucks off of tow trucks, it adds to noise.”

Andrew Bordoni said he would have potentially tried to start a business arrangement to tow vehicles for the East Longmeadow Police Department.

“Speaking with the Police Department, they have no interest at this point in adding a third [towing client],” Mercieri said. “As [Anthony Bordoni] has said it’s a one week a year and they’re not interested in that because it would open up a can of worms.”

Anthony Bordoni said Tommy’s Auto Body, a previous business at the location, had an agreement with the police department to tow vehicles for about 50 years, beginning in 1932.

“Fifty years they did towing; they had a fire in 1988,” he added. “I bought it in 1989 and opened up my doors in 1990.”

There is a grandfather clause in the bylaw, which states that if there is a pre-existing use then a business is allowed to stay in that use, Carabetta explained. Once that usage is changed, the grandfather provision is invalid and if after two years there is no use, it ends as well.

“So, correct me if I’m wrong; even if it was done legally, illegally, it hasn’t been done for more than 13 years,” he added. “So even if it was an allowed use, it has long since gone away. In our bylaws, it is not an allowed use.”

William Gorman, a member of the Board of Selectmen and a resident of 243 Allen Street, said neighbors did not have complaints when Tommy’s Auto Body operated at of the location.

“Probably different neighbors,” interjected Carabetta.

Previously, CJ’s Towing Unlimited operated out of the location as well, beginning in 1991, explained Anthony Bordoni. CJ’s Towing Unlimited eventually expanded, moving to Springfield.

“A young cadet served this country in the marines,” Gorman said referring to Andrew Bordoni. “The kid should be given a chance to start a business just like CJ did. There were no complaints when he ran his trucks out of there.”

Stephen Haskins, a resident of Elm St., said the largest investment that an individual can make is their home and that to permit towing in a residential area could effect the value of homes.

“I’m not even sure why we’re here,” Daniel Handzel, a resident of 353 Elm St., said. “It’s against all the bylaws.”

Planning Board member George Kingston said the bylaw is broadly written to state that any storage of motor vehicles in a residential zoned area is prohibited. The zoning bylaw makes no mention of police or other towing.

“I would also like to add that this is nothing personal against Mr. Bordoni,” Kingston said. “I believe that businesses need to be run in zones that are appropriate for the businesses and if that means renting a lot somewhere or renting space at an existing storage facility, that’s the way things go.”

In other business, the board approved a site plan review for Innovative Capital Partners, a home office patent business at 112 Nottingham Dr., and a site plan for NBS Services, LLC, for a home office at 29 Fraser Dr.