Construction company fined for nuisance Thursday, October 20, 2005
David McLaughlin 508-626-4338 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- For years, Joe Bradley has stared at the parking lot next door to his downtown home, where a construction company keeps pallets, roofing materials and rusted fencing and where diesel trucks start idling at the crack of dawn.

Despite a series of town fines against the business, little has changed, according to Bradley, who says he is fed up.

"All I want is to stop these violations from going on.  It's a disgrace it's gotten to this point," he said.

The latest development in the neighborhood feud occurred last week, when the town fined David Gardner Contracting $300 for violating the nuisance bylaw.  The business, located on Irving Street, owns the building that houses SMOC's wet shelter.

Bradley, who lives on Gordon Street, is not the first resident to complain about downtown businesses that flout Framingham's nuisance bylaw, which aimed at protecting neighborhoods from blighted properties.

The law needs more teeth, he says, because companies like Gardner pay the fines as the cost of doing business.

Bradley also said he thinks his complaints would receive more attention if he lived in north Framingham.

"If I lived in 01701 instead of 01702, this wouldn't have gone on for four years," Bradley said, referring to his ZIP code.

The company disputes Bradley's charges and questions the legality of the fine.

Donal Keane, the treasurer, said the business has tried to keep the lot clean.  He also disputed the fine, saying the construction materials are not stored on the property permanently; they are left there for a few days before being moved to job sites.

"I don't think we're bad neighbors.  We endeavor to work with anybody who's reasonable around the community," Keane said.  "People on the other side don't seem to have a problem."

Selectman Ginger Esty, who has called attention to the matter at selectmen's meetings, agreed with Bradley that complaints from downtown residents do not get the same priority as others.

Esty isn't impressed with the town's response in this case.  "I think certainly it's not quick enough and not in depth.  This seems to be a little Band-Aid fix."

According to the Building Department, the Oct. 13 fine was triggered because the lot was filled with pallets, roof sheeting, tar-filled wheelbarrows, insulation and plywood.  Building Commissioner Joe Mikielian also said Gardner had put snowplow blades on top of the roof, a violation of the building code, but he took them down over the weekend.

"He has a right to operate the business, but he has to keep it under control," he said.

Mikielian also rejected Bradley's complaints.  Warnings and fines fix the majority of violations, he said, and in this case they are hurting Gardner's business because they are an additional cost.  The department, he said, has also responded to all his complaints.

It was not clear yesterday exactly how many fines have piled up through the years.  According to records Bradley provided, the company was ordered to pay $1,200 in fines last year.

Bradley did not know about any snowplow blades, but he said Gardner kept insulation on the roof for months.  A few weeks ago, sections of it blew off the roof and landed on his property.

"I'm fed up.  (Town officials) have a lot of other responsibilities, but why should this linger and linger and linger?" he said.

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