Amid Flap Over Car Carriers, Mohawk License Renewed
SHIRLEY -- Selectmen earlier this month voted 2-1 to renew Mohawk Village Motors’ Class II license for next year. But it must be reviewed again in March.
At issue was not so much Mohawk, which has operated for many years on Great Road without stirring up the neighborhood. The issue instead hinged on a contentious debate over Insurance Auto Auctions next door.
During public hearings when IAA’s license came up for renewal, neighbors on Great and Going roads lodged noise and nuisance complaints: trucks showed up at the IAA lot at all hours and on weekends, left engines idling overnight, and parked in front of homes and driveways, people said.
Other residents reported huge car carriers speeding on secondary roads they were not supposed to use.
Selectmen took up Mohawk’s license renewal and for over an hour they struggled to find a way to grant it without attaching conditions similar to those imposed on IAA, including restricting the size of car carriers accepted on the lot.
The IAA flap ended amicably. Neighbors say problems have abated thanks to conditions attached to the license, such as restricting work week activity to normal business hours, downsizing Saturday operations and closing on Sundays and holidays and banning 10-car carriers. Owner Dan O’Leary also agreed to notify customers and post lot rules and restrictions prominently on his website.
Selectman Enrico Cappucci said it seemed fair to apply the same 10-car carrier ban to Mohawk Motors, which at some point accepted oversize trucks IAA had turned away.
“We did,” a couple of times, owner Dan McNiff said, but never again.
Banning all 10-car carriers would hurt his small business, he said.
That was news to Cappucci, who believed he’d already settled that issue with McNiff.
During previous hearings on the IAA license, he pointed to Mohawk as the kind of good neighbor business the town should encourage.
When he got a call about after-hours activity, for example, Cappucci contacted McNiff, who assured him he’d take care of the matter and he did. He also promised not to accept 10-car carriers on his lot, Cappucci said at the time.
McNiff, coming before the board with an attorney, he said some out-of-state companies he’s done business with for years use 10-car carriers and always have, with no issue and that they would go elsewhere if he can’t accommodate them.
The trucks arrive, by appointment only, three or four times a week during business hours, he said, and they use numbered routes, not town roads.
He said Mohawk Motors has operated at the same location for many years without bothering residential neighbors. He said his business is small and would be damaged considerably by the ban.
McNiff’s lawyer argued that the two businesses are different, though they both receive damaged used cars. Neighbors complaints were caused by the numbers of over-sized car carriers IAA was dealing with every day on a lot too small to handle them, he said. Mohawk Motors has more space, fewer customers, and no problems, he said.
Selectman Bryan Sawyer said he was reluctant to set conditions that could hurt a small business in good standing, he said.
Chairman Debra Flagg suggested a three-month trial period during which McNiff would make certain changes at Mohawk Motors, as discussed, and continue to receive 10-car carriers on a limited basis.
Cappucci was not swayed. He voted against the motion, which passed by a majority.