LYNNFIELD — Essex Superior Court Judge Paul D. Wilson has ordered Perley Burrill property owner Joseph L. Pedoto, trustee of the Little Joe Realty Trust, to remove five underground storage tanks from the property.

Town Counsel Tom Mullen was seeking a permanent default judgment against Pedoto to remove the underground tanks. The single-walled tanks have not been in use since December 2011 and the monitoring system designed to detect any leakage only works if the power is on. Mullen said recently the storage tanks’ power is currently off.

According to Mullen, Pedoto’s attorney, Joseph Brodigan, appeared in court on behalf of his client and agreed to the complaint’s terms. Mullen said Pedoto will need to apply for a permit from Fire Chief Mark Tetreault to remove the tanks within 30 days after the decision was issued on Aug. 14. After this permit is issued, Pedoto will have 60 days to remove the five tanks.

Mullen said the cost to remove the tanks is $45,000. According to Mullen, Pedoto has claimed he cannot afford to pay the cost of removing the tanks. If Pedoto misses the deadline set by the court to remove the tanks, Mullen will file a complaint seeking to hold him in contempt. The property owner could potentially be either fined or sent to jail. Mullen also said if Pedoto cannot afford to pay the cost for removing the tanks, he may file for bankruptcy. Mullen said dealing with a bankruptcy trustee would be easier than dealing with Pedoto.

“My objective is getting the underground storage tanks out safely,” said Mullen. “We have gotten everything we wanted out of this case.”
According to Mullen, Pedoto has agreed to allow Building Inspector Jack Roberto and Health Director Kristin Esposito McRae onto the property. Roberto said he has visited and taken pictures of the property recently.

The case’s judgment also stated that the town is “authorized to take all lawful and reasonable actions to bring the premises into environmental compliance (including, without limitation, the removal and proper disposal of the tanks) and to perfect a lien upon title to the premises for all reasonable expenses and costs incurred by the plaintiff to accomplish the same.” The town is also “authorized to record at the appropriate Registry of Deeds a certified copy of this judgment referencing the title to the premises.”

The town currently has a growing tax lien against the Little Joe Realty Trust, which owes more than $143,000 in unpaid property taxes to the town. The last tax payment made to the town was in 2007.

Aside from removing the five underground storage tanks and the $143,000 in back taxes that Pedoto owes the town, neighbors have complained to local officials about the long-standing dilapidated state of the two structures on the 906-914 Salem St. property. Neighbors have also raised concerns about rodent problems and commercial vehicles apparently parking on the property illegally.

McRae said the Board of Health received a pest control report on July 22 seeking pre-demolition rodent service. On August 12, the Board of Health requested through Town Counsel to the owner’s attorney that Pedoto arrange a second extermination inspection. On Monday morning, McRae told the Villager, “so far this is still pending.”