By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Better late than never.
After six months of court hearings pursued by the town, Perley Burrill property owner Joseph Pedoto removed five underground storage tanks from his Salem Street property over the course of a two-day period recently.
“All five tanks have been removed from the ground,” said Fire Captain Michael Feinberg.
Pedoto was facing a 30-day jail sentence for contempt if he did not remove the tanks by Feb. 12 after the most recent ruling by Essex Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta that Pedoto failed to comply with a court order issued last August by Essex Superior Court Judge Paul D. Wilson to remove the five underground storage tanks from the 906-914 Salem St. property.
Feinberg confirmed local officials’ concerns that petroleum from these five underground storage tanks, which have not been in use since Dec. 2011, leaked into the ground. He said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was notified. Additionally, the DEP authorized a licensed site professional to begin cleaning up the property.
According to Feinberg, the residential building located on the property has not be razed because Pedoto is waiting for an asbestos survey to be completed and an asbestos abatement plan still needs to be submitted to DEP. Feinberg said he did know when the property would be cleaned up.
Town Counsel Tom Mullen said he’s pleased Pedoto finally removed the five tanks.
“It’s been a long and a frustrating ordeal, but it’s gratifying that the tanks are out of the ground,” Mullen told the Villager.
The ongoing saga between Pedoto and the town over removing the five underground storage tanks began last August when Mullen sought a permanent injunction against Pedoto to remove them over local officials’ concerns that the tanks were leaking into the ground and groundwater. The tanks’ monitoring system could only detect leakage if it was connected to a power source, which was not the case since the tanks were idle.
The judgment issued against Pedoto stipulated that the Perley Burrill property owner needed to apply for a permit from Fire Chief Mark Tetreault to remove the tanks within 30 days after the judgment was issued on Aug. 14. After this permit was pulled, Pedoto would have 60 days to remove the tanks.
After Pedoto missed the Sept. 14 deadline to pull the permit from the fire department, Mullen filed a contempt complaint, which sought to punish Pedoto for failing to honor a court order.
During an early October court hearing on the matter, Mullen learned that Pedoto had filed five permit applications to remove the tanks. The judge ruled that Pedoto was in contempt for failing to meet the court- ordered deadline to pull the permit, but decided to give him additional time to remove the tanks.
Pedoto failed to comply with the court order once again. Pedoto reportedly told Mullen he was close to selling the property to a third party. Meanwhile, a potential agreement between the town and Pedoto broke down in December.