LACONIA — A Weirs Beach property owner has complained to City Council that the city has allowed a local garage to operate a used car business illegally from its premises. But owners of the business say that they followed all the necessary state and local regulations and that any problems are due to mistakes made by city officials.
Denis Bourque, who owns property 1187 Weirs Boulevard, appeared before the City Council Monday evening, and said that used cars have been sold illegally from Gulbicki's Towing & Auto Repair at 1193 Weirs Boulevard, for more than a year, that the city has been aware of the situation and has done nothing to stop it.
Bourque told the council that there have at times been 20 to 30 vehicles on Gulbicki's 0.22 acre lot.
"I've gone to the city (about this) and have gotten little or no help," said Bourque.
Mayor Ed Engler told Bourque that his complaint was the first time the council had been made aware of the problem, but that the council would ask city officials for an explanation.
C.J. Gulbicki said that he applied in 2011 to the state for a license to sell used cars from his father, Charles's, auto repair shop. He said the state license was issued in February 2012 after City Planning Director Shanna Saunders mistakenly told the state in writing that a used car business at that location was permitted by city ordinance. In fact, the property lies within the city's Commercial Resort zone, which does not permit automobile sales.
The city subsequently realized the error and the state notified Gulbicki last year that his license would be pulled because he did not have the necessary city permission. Gulbicki said that he went to Saunders and told her that he was working to find a new location for the used car business. He asked the Saunders to intervene with the state on his behalf. Saunders then wrote to the state urging that they not revoke Gulbicki's license since he assured the city he was working to rectify the situation. While the state did not revoke the license, they declined to renew the license when it expired this past March. Since then the younger Gulbicki said that he is no longer selling used cars from the location, except for a couple of vehicles which he is selling as "a private sale." Gulbicki said that he is making arrangements to move the used car lot to 248 South Main St.
Gulbicki said there are now 15-18 vehicles on garage's lot, with most there for repair work, or vehicles that have towed there by Gulbicki Towing.
Bourque told the council he is was particularly upset the the city intervened on Gulbicki's behalf. "Why would the city urge the state not to enforce its regulations simply because the city is not enforcing its regulations?," he asked the council.
City Manager Scott Myers acknowledged that Bourque had contacted numerous times about the matter. Myers said "issues between neighbors" have played a role in the matter.
The elder Gulbicki said he was upset that his business was being made to look bad. He said that neither he nor his son had done knowingly done anything wrong, and that what errors were made were made by the city. "Why should we be hurt because (Saunders) made a mistake?"
He accused Bourque of having a grudge against him.