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Gridlock at the North Street Gas Station – Again

City Council to hold hearing on plan to plant trees as three-year-old war re-escalates.

After an unusually warm winter had allowed work to proceed, the neighbors near the long-vacant and convenience store were cautiously optimistic that the owner would finish the work at the site, including planting trees between the station and their properties.

Planting the tree was one of the last steps to end a three-year fight between the neighbors on Buffum Street and station owner, Haralampos Sidiropoulos of Trickett Realty Trust. The trees were also necessary for the neighbors to drop their opposition to the city granting Sidiropoulos a certificate to operate the station.

But then the deal fell apart.

The owner's landscape architect, Lorayne Black of Groton, submitted to the city solicitor Elizabeth Rennard a proposed landscaping plan that claimed all parties were in agreement with it.

“This is not true,” said Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey. “The plan submitted by Lorayne Black significantly reduced the number of trees as well as their height on the plan that everyone seemed to be in agreement with back in
December, 2011.”

The number of some species of trees was cut almost in half and reduced in height by several feet, Prevey said.

“The gas station seems to be at a grid lock point again,” the councilor wrote in an email. “The neighbors are being manipulated and played again, sorry to say.”

Prevey has scheduled a hearing on the issue tonight before his Committee on Public Health, Safety and the Environment. The hearing to review the differences over the landscaping plan is set for 6:30 p.m.

Black, who did not respond to a request for an interview, has been designing outdoor living spaces in New England for more than 20 years. “Whether the project is an intimate garden for a private residence or a master plan for a large, commercial project, our firm provides thoughtful designs that are responsive to the individual client and the unique site requirements,” her web site states.

“Successful projects begin with clear communication with our clients in order to gain an understanding of their vision and to achieve the best landscape design solutions. Each project is an opportunity to create an attractive, creative, functional and environmentally sound outdoor space,” Black's web site states.

Neighbor Helen Papadopoulos said earlier this year that she was “cautiously optimistic” that the landscaping would be installed this spring. But she warned, “We will always remain concerned as long as things are incomplete.”

Papadopoulos wanted the Council to hold a hearing on the station landscaping “to push things along.”

Last fall, all city councilors signed a letter urging the building department not to grant the station its permit until all the issues were resolved.

The owner wanted to open last December. Through his attorney, Joseph Correnti, Sidiropoulos proposed that the neighbors allow him to open. And in return, he would sign an agreement that he would fix the drainage problems the new station appears to have caused neighboring properties and replace the trees that acted as a buffer between the neighbors on Buffum Street and the station.

The neighbors objected.

“He has done the same thing all over New Hampshire and Massachusetts.”

DeSantis said the neighbors want all the work done before they agree to drop their complaints to the city.

chester suchecki May 02, 2012 at 01:34 PM
stick to your guns salem this is a raw deal in the shadows.
Pat May 02, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I think the City should plant the trees according to our plan and put a lien on his real estate tax bill. Or force him to pay up before opening. That's the only way these trees will ever get planted. it has been three very long years - the man has never been fined. Obviously holding up his certificate doesn't matter to him. The city needs to take some sort of action now. How many more neighborhoods need to be destroyed before the city steps in??
georgethomasob@aol.com May 02, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Good luck Salem. If the ownerof the service station made an agreement with his neighbors and unilaterally and wthout notice tried to change the agreement, that guy should not be allowed to operate a licensed business that stores and dispenses dangerous commodities. .
john May 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
This entire situation is mainly the fault of the city. It did not get to the point it is at overnight. Where were the department heads that over see development in Salem? The administration has an obligation to prevent things like this from ruining the neighborhoods of the taxpayers. I find it shameful that our leaders have allowed this to happen and then act like the owner is to blame.Bad people will do bad things as long as nobody stops them. Disgraceful!!
KlassySalem May 02, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Yeah! The city should have known this owner was going to suddenly cut down the trees. Let's put shrubbery police in front of every business, just in case!
john May 02, 2012 at 07:09 PM
It all requires permits.I guess we should not have been monitoring the illegal drainage system he suddenly put in the ground either??? The fact is the city should have known EVERYTHING he was doing. Maybe developers should just do what they want until someone complains.Who needs planning,building and engineer departments.
KlassySalem May 02, 2012 at 09:51 PM
And he cut down the trees without a permit to do so. How was the city supposed to know he'd do that?
john May 02, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I find it hard to belive he cut down all those be trees, suddenly, without having the neighboors call and also find it hard to believe he was able to install a drainage system that was something other than what he submitted.Thats the city's job to monitor what they issue permits for,isn't it? I will also make the point I have made repeatedly and that is how does Northside have a permit to operate a facility that is collapsing? Sure seems to me people are not doing their jobs. On the other hand if you tried to sell hot dogs or popcorn downtown you would be shut down and fined in a matter of minutes.
michael beaulieu May 02, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Hey John and Klassy salem Where do you live that you need a permit to cut down trees on your own property?
Cwheels May 02, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I was forced to have 5 large (30'+) Norway maple trees removed on my property. Start to finish the whole job took less then 4 hours, Thanks Dodge Tree. I didn't know a permit had to be pulled for tree removal, does it? While I feel for the neighbors of this station the trees were not theirs. Why should they have any say in them being cut down? Plant your own trees and pat yourself on the back.
john May 03, 2012 at 12:44 AM
You need to submit a proposal that covers everything you plan to do. That usually includes any changes you will cause to your neighbors privacy. This was a new project so the city had input in order to issue a permit.I don't live near there but if he had the right to cut them down then why has he agreed to put them back and why is the city making sure he does? I would be suprised if the tree issue wasn't discussed during the planning stages by the neighbors. As for permits,my understanding is that you need a permit to do anything, including things such as yard sales.
Dunny May 03, 2012 at 01:11 AM
In 1970 a special permit from the ZBA allowing a gas station to be built on the site was allowed under certain conditions. Leaving a buffer zone behind the gas station and the abutters was a condition. This and the conditions were recorded at the registry of Deeds along with the deed. The new owner just comes in and proceeds to cut down the trees in violation of the conditions. It has nothing to do with getting a permit to cut down trees, but has to do with not following the conditions of the special permit issued in 1970
john May 03, 2012 at 01:51 AM
And the city should have been watching.
Pat May 03, 2012 at 01:41 PM
And the city did nothing. We, the neighbors, asked him to stop cutting down our buffer zone, but he just ignored us. The building inspector should have issued a "Cease and Desist" once he realized what he had done. But that didn't happen. Nor was this man fined. He put in the drainage system without a permit and the gas tanks without a permit. The drainage system drained its water right into a neighbor's basement. Were it not for Paul Prevey and the Council, that drainage system would still be there wreaking havoc. I believe we have suffered enough. The City needs to take action. And Buffum Street will never be the same!
john May 03, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I can see why Salem has such problems when we have residents, like some of those who have posted here,who think the city has no responsability in a case like this. The city turns their collective heads because all they see is increased commercial tax income.As long as it's not in your back yard right?
Pat May 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Thanks, John. You are SO right!!!
john May 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Your welcome and good luck.Paul Prevey has shown that he stands together with the North Salem residents.One of the worst things that can come out of a failure like this is the possibility that a taxpayer could have to take legal action against the city.That would be your hard earned money fighting against your hard earned tax dollars. We pay people to run this city and when they fail we pay again.
Cwheels May 03, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Thanks Dunny and Pat. I wish you luck.
michael beaulieu May 03, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Hey John who posted that the city has no responsability?
john May 03, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I posted it based on my opinion of comments made by you and others. The city is responsible to oversee development and they didn't do it and yes, a person obviously does need permission to cut down trees especially when they were told not to do it. Anything else I can clear up for you???
michael beaulieu May 03, 2012 at 11:05 PM
. Why do I need permission to cut down a tree on my property? As you said the owner had to submit a proposal that covers everything you plan to do. So if the owner planed new landscaping behind the station then the city screwed up. Anything else I can clear up for you?? Yes are you johhyappleseed from the salem news?
john May 03, 2012 at 11:30 PM
You should read as you go because you are confused.The owner had conditions on developing the site.One was to keep the trees as a buffer zone to the homes behind the station. He cut them down.He also contructed an illegal drainage system and installed tanks in the ground without a permit. You are correct about the city screwing up which is exactly what my point has been from the beginning. All those things done wrong and where was the city? As for your trees do what you want ,it's not relevant. If you were building a new home and wanted to cut dowm trees and the neighbors wanted their privacy protected, you probably would be restricted from doing so,like the gas station owner was!!
Cwheels May 03, 2012 at 11:56 PM
John I don't think that a "person" on their own private property needs to get permission from anyone to take a tree down, not city government and certainly not a neighbor. You want shade in your yard plant your own tree. Do you need a permit? I don't know, if you do I wouldn't call it getting permission I would call it a money grab. A commercial property owner working on a lot that has a special ZBA permit with terms and conditions recorded at the registry of deeds is a different story. Trees are the best buffer anyone could ask for. It would be great if the folks from Buffum street could find pictures of the trees that proved their height and canopy size. Arborists have a formal for deciding a tree's value based on the width of the trunk, Maybe that could help you get back to where you were. Dick Rennard is the director of the DPW and also a MA license arborist
Cwheels May 04, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Michael B, I was thinking he could be Northern Lynn
john May 04, 2012 at 01:08 AM
So let me get you straight,first you said plant your own trees because the guy had every right to cut them down.Then you said if ZBA said he couldn't thats a different story.Now your talking about what size they were and so on.My simple point is that the guy took multiple illegal actions and the city was sound asleep. So,what is your point? The issue of a permit to cut trees is no longer in the discussion because, in this case,it had already been decided.. I can't imagine that there is not some regulations on cutting trees.If you cut a tree on your property that lands on my house and takes out the power line, whos responsible?
Cwheels May 04, 2012 at 01:39 AM
That's not what I said at all. NL, What the hell does any of this have to do with a tree landing on your house?
john May 04, 2012 at 01:58 AM
What is not what you said? Everything I said you said,you did say.Make up your mind.Do you know what you said? Be specific and I will show you where you said it.Hey,neighbors they wern't your trees so go plant your own and pat yourself on the back,you didn't say that? As for NL,Northern Lynn ,I have no idea what that means so knock yourself out.Who cares what the value of the trees before they cut them down? What are you proposing a buffer made of dollars?
john May 04, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Curios how you were forsed to cut down your own trees? Call Dodge,they pulled a permit.
D King May 06, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Where is the Mayor in all of this ??? All 11 city councilors sign a letter to the building department yet the Mayor is not mentioned at all.... Oh wait a minute, the gas station owner has a Lawyer named Joe Correnti who happens to be a big campaign supporter and donor of Mayor Driscoll... Interesting, what kind of back room deals were done to keep the blinders on the department heads who should have realized these illegal actions were taking place at the North Street property ???
john May 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
You hit the nail on the head. Salem is a puppet show and Driscoll is the puppet master.

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