Mediation was a theme Monday at Peabody City Council as members worked to resolve issues surrounding the monthly Peabody Cruise car show and a neighborhood salvage complaint.
The Cruise snafu was apparent from the agenda, with Brett Miles and Morgan Marler scheduled independently to address the council.
Speaking after Miles, Marler presented a list of bands lined up for Cruise dates, and said Sunflower Development Corporation has agreed to let them perform in front of their building.
She also requested that the street barricades put up for the Cruise, that are taken down when it ends at 1 p.m., be left in place until 2:30 p.m.
“Are you an extension of Brett’s organization, or separate, so everybody has an understanding of why he was here and now you are sitting here?” mayor Larry Larsen asked.
“A little bit of both,” Marler replied.
Miles spoke up.
“Let me clarify that,” he said. “The music started off with them being a subcommittee to kind of take over the music part of it, but we have not been able to get them to sit down to meet. As far as we’re concerned, our event is still 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. I cannot get them to meet.”
Marler explained that she started a warehouse sale last year on Cruise days, ending at 2 p.m.
“We ended up extending that to 5 p.m. because we had so many more people coming,” she said.
Together with J&M Liquor Store owner Jamie Hampton, who lined up the bands and funding, Marler said their goal was to try to keep the people in downtown a little bit longer, providing sales opportunities for businesses that would be open.
While the council had no questions and did not object to extending the barricade time, Janice Woodruff clarified that Marler’s group would be responsible for taking the barricades down, and asked Miles if he had a problem with that.
“I don’t have a problem with that or with the music part of it, it’s how it’s been gone about,” he said. “It’s a requirement that vendors be set up prior to 8 o’clock, and vehicles off of the street. Nobody wants to have their $40,000 or $50,000 hot rod out there and have somebody unloading stuff coming in. That’s one of the things that I wanted to meet with them about, but we can’t seem to do that.”
Miles expressed concern about bands setting up when Cruise cars are in place, and possibly during the church service. He said the service has been held in the same location Marler proposed for the bands.
“If they’re going to do that and extend it, how do we do that? Let’s talk about that,” Miles said.
Larsen intervened, asking if it would be possible for him and other council members to meet with both entities to iron out the issues.
“Absolutely,” Miles said.
“That would be great,” Marler said.
It was agreed to meet at 7 p.m. Monday.
This wasn’t the first time Dan Martel appeared before the commission to register concern about a salvage business operated by Joe Brundage in a residential area at Peabody and 6th Sts., but this time Brundage was present to respond.
Martel acknowledged progress cleaning up the property had been made, but said he was worried that with spring cleanup coming, items Brundage collects could spill out into the yard and create an unsightly mess that would affect property values.
He said one of the neighbors, Ruth Demain, might have to sell her property if she can’t adequately take care of her husband’s health care needs.
“This is where we run into a problem with Joe’s lot being over there with the salvage, that we ran into with Mrs. (Ruth) Sheridan not being able to sell her property because that was a dump,” Martel said. “My main concern is that all the property around there within 200 feet, the valuation of their property will be brought down and they won’t get fair market value for it.”
Martel confirmed that Sheridan had taken her property off the market because, he said, she could not afford to sell it.
“If Joe comes in with a truckload or trailer load of merchandise, if it’s scattered all over the property again, the property around him is worthless. Before it’s there, I thought I would bring it up to see what we could to prevent something before it happens.”
Larsen said he had driven past the property and agreed that Brundage had been cleaning things up.
“I’ve been cleaning it up as fast as I can,” Brundage said. “Mrs. Sheridan has given me salvage, and she’s never said nothing to me, Mrs. Demain has never said nothing to me. Prices have been going up, I’ve been moving it out.”
Brundage said he planned to keep all his salvage behind a fence he has constructed.
Police chief Bruce Burke said he encouraged Brundage to seek an extension of time to comply with the cleanup demands in the original complaint delivered to him, noting that progress had been made.
However, the fence Brundage has constructed does not pass muster because it isn’t enclosed, and if it were it would have to be 6 feet tall and have childproof locks on any gates.
Burke also said the issue of Brundage operating a salvage business on property that is zoned residential hadn’t been addressed.
“What’s going on next door is a business,” Brundage said, referring to a saw sharpening operation.
While council members noted that it would be difficult to require Brundage to have a conditional use permit without addressing other home-based businesses, council member Rick Reynolds said Brundage wouldn’t qualify right now.
“He can’t file for a conditional use permit while a violation is open,” Reynolds said.
Discussion turned to granting Brundage an extension, with the council eventually settling on April 20 as the date for Burke to inspect the property.
Larsen addressed Martel.
“If Joe puts up a proper fence with locks on it and keeps everything within the fence,” Larsen said, “with the exception of possibly a loaded trailer hooked onto the back of his pickup, is that in your mind reasonably OK for the neighborhood?
Martel was agreeable.
“I would say yes,” he said. “I’d like to see the fence when it’s done. If the fence is acceptable to the chief, then that would be OK, as long as it’s not lying all over the countryside.”
Reynolds cautioned that the city could not dictate the appearance of the fence.
“In the planning and zoning board there are no guidelines as to what you have to build a fence out of,” he said. “As long as it is properly built with posts and cross boards and there are no sharp edges, it can be built out of barn tin. Unfortunately, there are no rules against that.”
Larsen asked Brundage what he would use to build the fence.
“I’ve got some tin; I’ll do it right,” he said.
Council will review Burke’s inspection report at its April 25 meeting.
In other business:
- Council member Megan Gallucci reported that no application have been received for pool manager. Concern was expressed by council members that the pool needs to be filled by April 20 to allow time for the water to warm up and be properly chlorinated to accommodate the start of swim team practices.
- Public works director Ronnie Harms reported that a falling tree branch had damaged an electrical line at the pool, exposing several electrical code violations that he would get fixed.
- Burke requested feedback from the council for a county survey asking about replacement of police and emergency radios.
- The public meeting process for rezoning the proposed Dollar General property was questioned in a conversation with a zoning consultant reported by city clerk Barbara Seeney. Reynolds said he would research the situation and present his findings at the planning and zoning meeting on Monday.