LONDONDERRY — The owner of a controversial Londonderry junkyard will head back before the Town Council next month in hopes of getting his business license renewed despite the ongoing concerns of some neighbors.
Bedford resident Edward Dudek, owner of Murray’s Auto Recycling on Hall Road, appeared before the council Monday evening accompanied by his attorney, Daniel Corley.
Dudek’s junkyard has been operating on Hall Road for over 50 years and predates the town’s zoning ordinance for the residential/agricultural area.Over the years, several of his neighbors, including Hall Road residents Gerald and Claudette Adams, have frequently complained to the town about the junkyard’s early operating hours as well as the stacks of junk cars that are sometimes visible from the street.
Following a lengthy debate before the council, this week’s public hearing was continued to July 15, as town officials work closely with Building Inspector Richard Canuel and one of the town’s attorneys, Matthew Serge, to further review Dudek’s future licensing conditions.
Council Chairman John Farrell said Dudek’s license would be extended through next month as town officials continue to work with him.
Canuel said Dudek’s junkyard has “a number of outstanding issues brought to attention by abutting property owners” and he’s conducted “extensive reviews of this junkyard over the years.”
“It’s not my recommendation that the council deny renewing this license,” Canuel told the Council on Monday. “However, the issues certainly warrant a resolution.”
Those issues include the stacking of vehicles above the site’s fence line, he said.
“This has been an ongoing issue over the years and has been discussed at other licensing hearings,” said Canuel.
An office trailer on the junkyard grounds is visible from Hall Road, though Canuel said that in 1987 Murray’s previous owner was ordered by the town to keep the trailer within the site’s fenced-in areas.
Dudek purchased the junkyard in 1998.
“Since then, that trailer still remains exposed to the Hall Road portion of the property, and the fence hasn’t been replaced in front of the unit,” Canuel said.
Corley said Dudek “has already spent thousands of dollars on improving his facility” and that his client was making a good faith effort to work with the town.
“He’d like things to get to the point where property owners nearby would accept his facility,” Corley said. “But if you drive past the junkyard at 30 mph, it’s very difficult to see any cars there.”
Canuel said Dudek has definitely made efforts to cooperate with the town over the years.
“In Mr. Dudek’s defense, the facility is far more improved than in previous years. It certainly does look a lot cleaner,” he said.
Dudek said he plans to remove the stacks of visible cars, though right now his hands are somewhat tied.
“The price of steel took a nose dive since winter, and I’d lose a lot of money if I sold them right now,” he told the council. “So I do plan on getting those cars out of there in the short term, but I don’t have a date quite yet.”
Dudek’s suggestion of covering the cars with drapes of camouflage fabric in the meantime was nixed by the council and Canuel.
“His agreement with the town states the vehicles cannot be stacked above the fence where they’re visible,” Canuel said.
“I agree — we have a clear order here,” Councilor Joe Green said.A previous agreement between Dudek and the town states the junkyard’s permitted operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But following neighbors’ complaints about early morning noise on the weekends, Canuel suggested the site’s Saturday opening time be moved up to 9 a.m.Several neighbors attended Monday night’s public hearing, where more concerns were expressed.
“If you drive by (the junkyard) right now, it really is an eyesore,” Claudette Adams said. “The only reason there’s been any cleanup at all is that his back is against the wall.”
Discussions on the junkyard will continue at the July 15 Town Council meeting. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Moose Hill Council Chambers at Londonderry Town Hall.firstname.lastname@example.org