Towing Business Receives Special Exception from Zoning

The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) has approved a request for a Special Exception to allow the operation of a towing business at a residential location. The board heard the appeal from Catherine A. Ritchey at its June 6 meeting.

The parcel is Parcel ID 32078 at 83 East Broadway and is zoned MHDR (Medium High Density Residential).
Ritchey said she lives at Apt. A in the four-unit building. She said she formerly operated the towing company from a location on Manchester Road, but that became too expensive.

Ritchey said she owns two trucks, one of which will be parked at 83 East Broadway. She read the conditions for a special exception, noting that residential use had been established previously and that the operation would not be “injurious, noxious or offensive.”

The condition that the business not occupy more than 25 percent of the dwelling would be met, Ritchey said, noting that the section she planned to use would be a 4-foot by 2-foot section with a computer and a desk.
The rule that there will be not more than one sign, not exceeding three feet, would be met, Ritchey said: the only sign for the business is on the truck.

Ritchey said she is contracted with an auto auction firm in Salem, and her trucks go out Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 to 8 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m. She does not do emergency towing, she said, and does not operate on weekends.

She has been in business since June 2007, Ritchey said, and has been operating out of the home since 2011. Her fiancé, Michel Robinson, drives the truck that is kept at her home, and another employee drives for her and parks the second truck elsewhere.

Board member Lynn Perkins observed that there was abundant foliage where she parks the truck, and asked, “if sight line becomes a problem, can you cut those back?”
Ritchey said she could.

Chairman Allan Virr asked if there were any children in the building, and Ritchey said her daughters are 17 and 19. A teenage boy lives upstairs, she said, but there are no small children in the building.
Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey said while the area is zoned MHDR, it is listed as commercial/ industrial property because of its multi-family use.

One tenant had complained to his department about fumes, he said, “But I believe they’ve addressed that.”
No abutters spoke against the company in the public comment portion of the meeting. Eric Piatt, who owns a building at 87 East Broadway, said, “We and our tenants have no complaints.”

In the board’s deliberations, Virr said he would like to see a stipulation that no vehicles be stored on the premises on the flatbed truck. Member Teresa Hampton observed that the business was “a well-oiled machine.” She praised Ritchey because Ritchey discovered there was a problem, and came to the board.
Virr said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past that building, and not known there was a flatbed truck there.” The board voted 5-0 to grant the special exception.