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Towing Business Not Out of the Wood

November 29, 2018

BILLERICA -- A pile of wood stacked in front of a tow-truck business on Boston Road was the site of a town-led cleanup effort earlier this week.

“It’s basically a public nuisance that site,” Town Manager John Curran said. “We’re going to pursue it through town counsel.”

Crews from the town moved the firewood from the public-right-of-way in front of 812 Boston Road to storage at the Department of Public Works on Monday and Tuesday, according to Curran.

According to the town manager, the effort addresses one of many issues with the property including expired permits for storing of flammable materials, blocking access to a building on the property with firewood, special permit violations and possible illegal residential rentals.

David Patterson, who has operated Pattersons’ Towing and Automotive on the property for over two decades, said he started collecting the logs to run a firewood business about a year ago. He said he branched out due to the decline of the automotive business and the loss of one of his legs.

According to Patterson, the logs built up over time, spurred by people dropping off wood when he was away from the property.

He denies renting the property for residential uses. He said he has tried to pay for the permit for storing flammable goods, but did not have correct change when he went to the Fire Department.

Curran described the logs as a hazard, particularly in the snow, so he contacted the state to get permission to remove it from the right-of-way.

“It’s one thing to run an illegal business,” Curran said. “It’s another thing to have it spill out on a legal right-of-way.”

He said the town will store the wood temporarily and Patterson can pick it up.

Patterson said he also takes issue with the way the town handled the removal.

About a week and a half ago, Curran said a building inspector visited the site and spoke to Patterson about removing the wood from the edge of the property, where it was spilling into the state-owned right-of-way on Boston Road.

Patterson was given three weeks to clean-up the wood, according to both he and the town manager.

“As a man of my word, I said I’ll have all the wood off the front of the property by Dec. 25,” Patterson said.

Curran said he did not believe Patterson would clean up the wood based on a conversation regarding the timeline with him, so he initiated the clean-up this week. Patterson described the conversation with Curran as heated.

The issue is the latest clash between Patterson and the town. Both Patterson and Curran mentioned an earlier zoning dispute over the eligible uses of the property.

Curran said multiple town departments are drafting violations involving the property, including the Fire department, building Department, Police Department and possibly the Board of Health.

The current owner of the property, Buddy Page Realty, owes over $9,000 for the tax title, according to the town’s treasurer office. The owner also owes over $3,500 in real estate taxes.

According to assessors records, the 0.14-acre property is valued at $206,500.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins

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