Councillors and Sigourney Street neighbors squared off in a contentious public hearing on Monday night regarding a proposed 24-hour gas station on Squire Road.
The proposal comes from Joe Prizio and will sit on the site of the former 338 Pub. It is also right next to another large gas station, the Mobile, which Prizio owned and operated for the past eight years. Now, he is looking to re-start a similar business across the street.
Revere Attorney Larry Simeone represented the Prizios and indicated that they are upstanding businessmen who plan to build a brand new facility on the corner. He said they plan to install nice landscaping and build a vinyl stockade fence at the back of the property. He also said they would end up developing a two-family home at the rear of the site.
Several residents stood up in support of the matter, initially, but none seemed to be abutters to the project.
One was from Goldie Street, another from Oakwood Avenue and another from Malden Street.
All were very much in favor of the matter.
However, several abutters from near the proposed station were very vocally opposed to the matter – at times shouting down councillors who voiced their support of the station.
“We don’t need – and I stress this – we don’t need another 24-hour gas station with a mini mart attached to it in our neighborhood,” said Adeline Rotondo of Sigourney Street. “This should not be about money. There was never a gas station there when we bought our property and there shouldn’t be one now. Say no to this proposal. People’s health and family are first, not money.”
Said Cathy Rossi of Sigourney Street, “There’s one already there now. I don’t know why we need another. You have to look at this carefully…Traffic will be constant. It was bad before and now it’s unbelievably bad.”
“I am 93 years old and I paid my taxes all the time and I still pay my taxes,” said Corinne DiLuigi. “There’s no peace now. It’s just money now…I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think so.”
Added Joe Carbone of Sigourney Street, “I don’t know why we need another gas station, a 24-hour station with a mini-mart at that. It certainly will do nothing for my quality of life.”
Meanwhile, Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch and several other councillors were favorable to the idea in the midst of the neighborhood disapproval.
“You all dealt with the bar for years and maybe with the new gas station coming in you can give the guy a chance and see what he does,” said Patch. “I think you’ll be happy in the long run. There are a lot of rules he has to follow. A gas station today is not like a gas station used to be…Unfortunately, you live near a commercial area. They’re not going to put a park there. You’re talking about an investment here that’s going to give the City a lot more in taxes.”
Yelled Rotondo from the audience, “You talk like you work for him.”
Added another neighbor, “Yea, you sound like you had the plan already made up.”
Councillor Jessica Giannino also spoke in favor of the proposal, and took a measure of heat as well due to the fact she lives on the far end of Sigourney Street.
“You will never have heavy trucks going down that street,” she said. “It’s not permitted and it’s enforced…I want everyone to know nothing before the City Council is a done deal and that comment earlier irked me a bit because there are so many factors that go into this. I don’t want any resident to think that.”
Councillor Tony Zambuto said Prizo’s spotless record at the Mobile should speak to how he will run the new station.
“We’ve go a businessman whose ran a store perfectly next door for seven or eight years,” he said. “I’ve never had a complaint. I don’t know these people from anyone. I do know they’re a good business or a good neighbor and I expect that to stay the same…I think some of the fears here are being blown out of proportion.”
Council President Richard Penta said that the matter is not decided and will go to committee. He added that the tax assessment on the property will go from $460,000 to $4 million.
Officially, the matter before the Council is whether or not to grant a flammable storage license to the new station in the form of two underground gas tanks that contain a total of 40,000 gallons of fuel. Already, Fire Chief Gene Doherty has given his approval to the plan.
Penta sent the matter to a joint committee of Economic Development and Zoning.
As an aside, last May Attorney Simeone successfully changed the zoning throughout the City to allow the Squire Road station to be built by right. Previously, they would have needed other approvals to built the station. At that time, there were no abutters who opposed the zoning change that eventually cleared the way for this station.