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Wednesday, 29 June 2016 17:57

UPDATE: Tensions Escalate Between Auto Body Shop, Neighbors In Parking Clash on East Maple Street

UPDATE: Tensions Escalate Between Auto Body Shop, Neighbors In Parking Clash on East Maple Street

AC Auto Body’s owner said he deliberately, and legally, parked this commercial vehicle in front of an East Maple Street man’s home on June 22, 2016, in retaliation for an unpleasant gesture made the day before. Photo published with permission from its owner.


Fueled by an already tense parking situation, bad feelings between an auto body shop downtown and its neighbors on East Maple Street were ratcheted up the morning of June 22 after the business’s owner deliberately parked a company car in front of the home of the residents’ spokesman.

While AC Auto Body owner Anthony Ceraso said he purposely parked there for a legal two-hour period because David Shea had made a rude gesture the day before, Shea called the move is a bullying tactic and further evidence that the business should not be granted a special privilege of all-day parking in a designated area on East Maple.

The ongoing dispute boiled over June 22 when, according to Shea, Ceraso “parked four trucks up and down the street in front of residences,” prompting neighbors to snap photos and send them to on-street parking authorities “saying this is egregious and this is ridiculous, considering everything we have been through, for him to put this back in our face.”

Ceraso recounted a different version.

AC Auto Body parks its trucks in an area along East Maple Street that the Police Commission had carved out because the company serves as New Canaan’s designated on-call wrecking service in emergencies.

Following a two-car accident the morning of June 22 at Bank and Park Streets, Ceraso said, he had two flatbed trucks return to AC Auto Body “and if you know my parking lot, you know what car capacity we have, so we moved them out on East Maple Street, not on Main Street, so that we could move cars around in our lot and drop the cars in flatbeds onto the lot.”

“We were in the trucks, we did not leave them there [on East Maple] and leaving them there for the day, that is not what we do or have ever done. I was watching this guy take pictures and looking at him and he gestured to me to ‘kiss my ass.’ I emailed [authorities] and said that I will not have disrespect from this gentleman and there is no reason to act like that, to act like a child. He is a grown man. If there is a problem, them he can address it like a grown man. So in the morning [on June 23] I had the bright idea—and they cannot stop me from parking individual cars—so I parked one of my vehicles in front of his house, which is legal for a two-hour period, from 9 a.m. to whatever.”

According to Ceraso, Shea then parked his own car in the designated AC Auto Body space on East Maple. That prompted Ceraso to phone the Parking Bureau, “and they sent someone out and soon as they did, he moved his car.”

“So he is being vindictive,” Ceraso said.

Shea said that the neighbors on East Maple Street never were consulted when the town granted AC Auto Body its special spot on their road.

In an email sent to police officials who are working with the commission to solve the problem, Shea called Ceraso’s tactics “nothing less than intimidation and bullying by a business against the residents of East Maple Street.”

“Is this the result when residents challenge a business for repeated violations the parking regulations established by the New Canaan police force?” Shea asid. “A business should not be allowed to use public streets for commercial storage—this is not fair to the public—especially with an increasingly congested downtown location with documented safety issues. The streets should not be permitted to be used as an extension of a business whenever they wish.”

Shea said he and other neighbors are filing a formal complaint with the Police Commission that calls for the municipal body to revoke AC Auto Body’s privilege of parking in the designated area on East Maple Street and to ensure that it stops parking commercial vehicles in front of residents’ homes.

Ceraso said he’s been on Main Street for 18 years and that Shea is “not doing the right thing.”

“When I came to this location, I made this place a castle—I put up a wall and fencing, and made this an aesthetically appealing place in the middle of New Canaan,” he said. “So many customers have commented over the years about how we have brought up the values of their houses through the repair shop. There are two sides to every story. For whatever reason, this gentleman has nothing better to do than to bust my chops. And that’s my story.”

Asked to comment on the matter, Police Commission Chairman Stuart Sawabini noted that the group is pursuing the traffic study and said: “We are hoping to find an amicable solution for all parties. In the meantime, we are urging the parties to be patient.”

The commission is scheduled to meet July 20.


We would like to thank New Canaanite for reprint permission.

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