November 30 – NEWBURYPORT – The city and Global Oil are expected to introduce a binding agreement at the December 13 city council meeting that will set out the conditions for the maintenance of 107 State St.
During a public hearing on Monday, which continued from October 25, advisers discussed next steps to ensure Global not only keeps the gas station vacant on State Street, but also works with Exxon. / Mobil Oil Corp. to release the property from an act restriction that prohibits residential uses.
The initial hearing was called after neighbors sent a letter to council this summer, outlining issues at the site, including invasive weeds and lack of grounds maintenance, sidewalks not cleared of snow and icing during the winter, illegal public parking and its used by motorists as a crossing to avoid the traffic light.
On October 25, Global representatives apologized for neglecting to maintain the site and pledged to find a way for the site to be used for residential purposes.
During the public comment portion of the meeting on Monday, at least eight residents called on council to support an order drafted by council chairman Jared Eigerman with city attorney Jeffrey Blake of KP Law.
The ordinance would declare the property a nuisance under Chapter 139 of the general state law and establish the conditions for Global to resolve issues related to the maintenance of the site.
Some of the conditions outlined in the ordinance included the maintenance of the property’s grounds and the recently installed âno parkingâ signs, compliance with article 12-52 of the municipal code which requires snow and ice removal from sidewalks and posting a link to the city if snow and ice are not properly removed from sidewalks and / or grounds are not maintained to a certain standard.
Eigerman clarified that the order did not include requirements such as demolishing the sign or building, removing tanks or selling the property. He said the city needed to focus on aspects of the property that made it an impending nuisance to the neighborhood.
Newburyport attorney Jeffrey Roelofs, a representative for Global, said the company was willing to make a simple deal with the city, but viewed the public nuisance statement as the “wrong mechanism” at this time.
Roelofs also confirmed that Global has entered into discussions with Exxon regarding the restriction of the act. He said Exxon plans to conduct its own inspection of the property and set parameters for what would and would not be allowed if the site could potentially accommodate residential use.
Even if Exxon releases the restriction from the act that bans residential use, there are still other restrictions that would likely remain such as a ban on occupied basements or underground spaces and details regarding utilities, a Roelofs said.
After some discussions between the advisers, they agreed to consider another type of contract for possible approval.
The board took a brief hiatus so that the two lawyers, Blake and Roelofs, could confer on this possibility.
After the break, Blake indicated that he and Roelofs would draft an agreement before the next board meeting that would include all of the terms of the order and, ideally, include a timeline to keep efforts with Exxon moving forward.
“Understanding that there is a third party who is not part of this agreement”, added the lawyer of the city.
“I think we can put together a deal for your next meeting which I hope will address your concerns, show the other side is serious about what they are doing and at least have a binding agreement. to review and hopefully approve at that time, âBlake said.
The council voted unanimously to continue the hearing until December 13.
For more on the meeting, check out Wednesday’s print edition and www.newburyportnews.com.
Journalist Heather Alterisio can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.