The Council got a bit salty on Tuesday, May 29, as they discussed licenses needed by Eastern Salt of Chelsea to locate a salt storage area on Rover Street in the industrial zone.
The Everett City Council, recognizing the busy budget review season ahead, opted to meet on Tuesday, May 29, to ensure City business could continue unencumbered by the budget process and in recognition of the city’s annual Memorial Day celebration the day before.
Though the agenda was full on May 29, few of the articles for consideration were expected to raise much controversy, including a trio of license requests from a new business to the community, Eastern Salt Company of Chelsea.
Specifically, Eastern Salt was seeking a license to operate a garage, a license for a repair facility and a license to store flammable liquids on a parcel of recently purchased land, which is zoned as Industrial property at 201 Rover St., adjacent to the Distrigas plant.
The property had formerly been operated by Boston Sand and Gravel Corporation and Aggregate Industries as a cement operation.
Routine though the licenses may have been, the discussion about the licenses was anything but, as City Councilor Wayne Matewsky, who represents the Island End neighborhood that is welcoming Eastern Salt to Everett, had some pointed questions for the plant manager and an attorney for the company.
Matewsky asked, “How can a company that spends $15 million to buy property, not reach out to city government to discuss their plans for the site?” and further inquired. “Are you planning to close the plant in Chelsea?”
Matewsky, who indicated that he felt the City’s waterfront property should be more valued, said that he would not vote in favor of any licenses until he and the Council receive a “nice presentation, a booklet,” explaining how the company plans to operate the site.
He agreed with other councilors who felt a tour of the site would be in order before a vote.
However, City Clerk Sergio Cornelio reminded the councilors that the property is properly zoned as industrial land and the planned operation of the site as a secondary storage spot for road salt operations was within the allowed uses of industrial property.
That meant the Council’s only purview on the matter was the three licenses before it.
Councilors Michael Marchese and Fred Capone disagreed with councilors Matewsky and Stephen Simonelli that the line of questioning of the Eastern representatives was appropriate.
“I am appalled at the way we’re acting,” scolded Marchese. “Is this the way we welcome a new business to the city of Everett? Why would anyone want to come here to do business?”
Councilor Anthony DiPierro added, “Sometimes, some things are out of our control…I am perfectly willing to vote in favor of the requested licenses before us this evening.”
Following some discussion and a brief recess called by Council President Peter Napolitano, after Matewsky insinuated that Councilor Rosa DiFlorio might have a conflict of interest because she had once worked for Eastern Salt several years ago, the Council ultimately voted in favor of all three licenses.
Councilors Capone, DiFlorio, DiPierro, Hanlon, Marchese and Napolitano voted in favor on all three licenses.
Eastern Salt has agreed to arrange a tour of the site and fuller explanation of the expected operation at a later date as a courtesy to the Council.