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Salvage yard seeks reversal of permit denial

SALEM — A salvage yard that was denied a permit renewal by selectmen earlier this month could remain open until at least June 5.

Rocco’s Used Auto Parts at 55 Park Ave. is asking selectmen to reconsider it’s May 5 vote to deny the permit renewal. Selectmen agreed that the salvage yard has been a nuisance to its neighbors over the past several years, noting public testimony and a list of potential violations filed with the town.

Selectmen will hear that request for a reconsideration at its May 19 meeting.

“This will not be a public hearing and no testimony will be taken,” said Selectmen Chairman Pat Hargreaves. “If the board does not reconsider, Rocco’s still has to June 5 to file an appeal in Superior Court and may continue to operate through that date.”

If selectmen do decide to reconsider the permit renewal, Hargreaves said they will hold a public hearing at its June 2 meeting. At that time, the board will have another opportunity to approve or deny the renewal of the salvage yard license.

If the board decides not to reconsider, or if it reconsiders and the renewal is once again denied, Rocco’s still has the appeal process through Superior Court.

Hargreaves said if the business does appeal through the courts, the courts could issue a stay of the board’s denial and allow Rocco’s to operate pending a final decision by the court.

However, if the permit is not renewed and no appeal is received, Town Manager Keith Hickey said June 5 is the last day the salvage yard will be allowed to legally operate.

After hearing testimony during public hearings in April and on May 5, selectmen unanimously voted to deny the license renewal for Rocco’s Used Auto Parts. However, Hargreaves was unable to attend the May 5 meeting.

In making the motion to deny, Selectman Stephen Campbell stated that the business constitutes a public nuisance under state statute as well as New Hampshire common law.In addition to the neighbors who spoke about noise, fumes, and safety concerns at the business over the past decade, Selectman James Keller pointed to an inch-plus file of papers giving notices of violations dating back to 2006.

“There has been a pattern, and I don’t see any reason to believe the pattern is going to change,” said Keller.

Owner Michael McClellan has operated the business for about a decade and said he was willing to work with the town to scale down operations somewhat.

However, the amount of testimony and evidence from neighbors as well the lengthy list of violations was enough to convince selectmen to deny the permit renewal.

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