New Public Health Nurse and neighborhood resident Mary McKenzie informed the Board of Selectmen of the issue, which she says is longstanding, at a public hearing during which Georgetown, CA resident Salvatore Armata requested a transfer of Melrose Auto Body’s class II auto dealer’s license.
McKenzie said despite an agreement with the prior owner of Melrose Auto Body, which abuts the conservation land on Central Street, cars are continually stored and sold on the conservation land.
“That’s the main entrance for the nature walk in Saugus,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie expressed concern the cars would negatively impact property values in the neighborhood and leaking fluids might damage the protected land.
Residents did not report the issue to police, McKenzie said, because the prior owner of Melrose Auto Body had “verbally threatened” neighbors in the past.
“He’s hollered at me, so I decided I wasn’t going to try to deal with this gentleman,” McKenzie said.
Armata, who took over Melrose Auto Body this spring, denied involvement but said he has referred people interested in buying cars to the individual using the town land to sell cars.
Armata admitted to parking cars from Melrose Auto Body on the land during hours of operation, though he stressed all cars are returned to the shop or the shop’s gated lot at the close of business.
Selectmen Chairman Debra Panetta asked Armata to provide the name of the individual selling cars on the conservation land to selectmen after the meeting.
“It’s conservation land,” Panetta said. “It belongs to the town. I can see how the neighborhood would be quite upset about selling cars there for a multitude of reasons. We need to contact the person who is doing this and tell them that is not allowed.”
Selectman Scott Brazis asked Town Manager Scott Crabtree to inform police of the issue and tow any cars parked on the conservation land going forward.
“If you’re telling me there are cars across your driveway that are being sold on town conservation land, that’s not right,” Brazis said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to grant the license transfer to Armata with the stipulation that Melrose Auto Body is prohibited from selling or storing cars on conservation land.
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