Gulbankians to go before zoning board Wednesday night

by susan on July 27, 2010

Post image for Gulbankians to go before zoning board Wednesday night

At their meeting on Wednesday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals will try to sort out what businesses can legally operate on the Gulbankian Farms property at the corner of Mt. Vickery and Cordaville Roads.

Since 1965 the Gulbankian family has operated a garden center and florist shop on the site. They also run a machine shop that services antique cars. When the family sought to reestablish a school bus parking terminal on their property — a use for which they received a variance in 1983 — some neighbors complained. That prompted town Building Inspector Dave Gusmini to review how the land was being used.

According to town bylaw, a property cannot be used for multiple purposes without a special permit. The Gulbankians say they have the permits and that they have always operated legally, but Gusmini has reportedly issued fines against the family for zoning violations.

It’s up to the ZBA to figure out where to go from here. Carolyn Gulbankian said she hopes residents will show up at Wednesday’s meeting to support her family. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm at the Town House Hearing Room (second floor).

“(Gusmini) has officially put a cease and desist order on the flower shop and the machine shop,” Gulbankian said. “On Wednesday we are seeking a modification to the machine shop, and a special permit to operate our businesses here after being legal for 45 years.”

Update: After reading this post, Carolyn Gulbankian asked me to clarify that their machine shop rebuilds bus engines along with those for antique cars. She also told me the family fought the zoning violation fines in court and won.

(Full disclosure: Gulbankian Farms Garden Center and Florist is a My Southborough sponsor.)

1 Townie July 27, 2010 at 8:53 PM

Sounds like another case of some newbies in town. Probably the same bunch thats voting yes for the Main Street project. Let it go, they have been there WAY longer than you. For years they have operated out of that property and no one complained. Dont like it? Move out of town please!

2 Taxpayer July 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Townie, I hope everyone else reading this can agree that your post is moronic. We have bylaws for a reason (duh – I feel silly even typing that). And as for the “newbies” you criticize, they love Southborough just as much as you, their tax dollar buys just as much as yours, and they clearly vote in great numbers. Your high horse is actually just a pony — save your advice.

[P.S. I have nothing against the Gulbankians, by the way, and I hope they are successful in front of the ZBA.]

3 Resident July 28, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Amen taxpayer. This “newbie” vs. “townie” crap is assinine! You know where all the “townies” would be without the “newbies?” Able to pay for nothing! I would like to see the stats of what percentage of the tax base is contributed by those who have lived here for 20 years or less. I bet it would be quite an eye-opener to people like Townie.

4 Helen L July 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Were the Gulbankians successful last night? I certainly hope so, they’ve been there forever, so I don’t know why all of a sudden they have a “ceast and desist” order… hmmm, seems to me that around 2001 or so Road One/Ted’s of Fayville was issued one as well, and nothing EVER happened about that (except Ted’s bought themselves out of Road One). What gives with the double standards? At least the Gulbankians are on Route 85, not behind Main Street and a 100 year old neighborhood.

Regarding the “% of the tax base” for the folks here 20 years or less, they do contribute, but we also have HIGHER taxes than ever, trying to maintain school and town services. Farmland is definitely taxed less than million dollar houses, but doesn’t impact the school system anywhere near as much.

5 susan July 29, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Helen – No decisions were made (much to the consternation of the large crowd that turned out for the hearing). I’ll have more on the blog in a bit.

Update: Here’s my post about the hearing on Wednesday night: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2010/07/29/no-decsion-on-gulbankian-businesses/

6 mvslug July 30, 2010 at 9:45 AM

Seems to me that the farmland has mostly been sold off by the “townies” who owned it for millions of dollars, including by Gulbankians who certainly made a pretty penny selling off their land to the “newbies” being complained about now.

7 Helen L July 30, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I have to laugh at this “townie” vs “newbie” discussion (reminds me of the Algonquin debate!)… my Mom told me years ago that this was the only town that you could live in for 95 of your 96 years, and your obit would say that although you lived in town for many years, you were a “native of ____________”! So, using that parameter, all of us are “newbies”, as my parents moved here in 1959… When I was growing up, it was the “townies” vs the “schoolies”. :)

8 reasonable townie July 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM

the next door neighbor henri (andy) baldelli has lived on the property for 94 years. across the street shawn (baldelli) maguire has lived 39 years in the house his great grandfather had built 95 years ago…pre-gulbankian. i would hardly consider them newbies. they don’t want the sound, and more importantly the carcenigenic fumes around their homes, paricularly with a new baby on the way.
let’s remember this is a residential area, even though the dunkin d’s is close by, i can’t see or smell it from the nursery at the maguires. and although even if i could smell the donuts, as long as i just smelled the donuts and didn’t eat them, i would not have any health risks. the same can not be said for diesel fumes, which can cause asthma and cancer and a host of other maladies. not to mention sound that 14 diesel buses starting make at an early hour.

9 Pat Quill July 30, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Dear Reasonable Townie,

Thank you so very much for your impartial, unbiased and rational response
above. I appreciate hearing the facts and not the rantings of “Townie” who, behind an anonymous post I might add, choses to bash “newbies” when he/she comes to hasty assumptions about who has objected to the business.

I, being a “newbie” (apparently), frequent the Gulbankian florist/garden shop
whenever possible. I believe in supporting local businesses before I run to
giants like Home Depot or Lowes for flowers in my garden. I am tired of
“newbies” being bashed. I cannot believe that a grown adult would
be so narrow minded as to assume this is the result of “newbies” complaining.

According to the MWDN today, Mt. Vickory Hill Condominiums is one group
that opposes the business…… a nearby retirement community.
In addition, according to Reasonable Townie above, the opposition also comes
from nearby residents of the business who have lived in town for many, many years.

Quit the “newbie” bashing.

10 Mike Jr. July 29, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Sounds like Mike is trying to pull another fast one over on the town.

11 Kate July 30, 2010 at 1:33 PM

This issue needs to get resolved and the town needs to make a decision (yesterday). The legal documents, site visits, letters of support and complaint have all been filed. Someone needs to pull the trigger!

After sitting through the meeting the other night my feeling is why would anyone want to own or even start a business in town if a family owned business like the Gulbankians are treated like this?
Asking for yet another site plan which would have cost them $35,000 when multiple plans have been submitted, was a ridiculous request. This family is lucky to have any profit left over this year after the legal fees, documentation and court costs they’ve incurred. I guess putting 2 people temporarily out of work when unemployment is through the roof is OK. Oh, yes the hearing is delayed for almost another 2-3 weeks but again they can collect!

As a taxpayer everyone has a right to question a business if they’ve changed their operation and it directly affects your property and the town has an obligation to review, investigate and request that certain conditions be met. The injustice to everyone is when we begin to impede the process by constant delay tactics which not only affect the business owner but also the tax payers (don’t forget those town legal costs we voted on). What I observed from the meeting was that the surrounding residents don’t like the fact that the buses are back in operation so they are going to make it as difficult as possible for Carolyn and her brothers to operate the bus/car repair and flower shop. I fail to see how these operations after all these years are now impacting surrounding neighbors. What about the Town Center, Business Offices, National Grid, Transfer Station…

Be careful what you ask for you might just get it (more vacant buildings, empty dirt parking lots and more lost revenue to the town). Who wins on this one?

12 carrie alpert August 1, 2010 at 8:15 AM

i agree with the above post, who really wants to start a new venture in this town when it is so difficult for those who are already here to stay established;however, I also agree that diesel fumes have no place in a residential neighborhood, even in city districts they are foribidden (as in you may not work on multiple cars if you live in a closely knit neighborhood such as Dorchester) I find the discussion, and actually the continued undercurrent thread of “newbie” and “townie” to be absolutely ludicrous–as if the bank cares who has been here longer when your real estate tax check is deposited.

13 Disheartened August 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I went to the meeting in support of the Gulbankians. I was disheartened to see such unnecessary cantankerous behavior. The buses are legal and within their license. That is off the table. People unhappy with that need to move on and let these people to run their business.
The machine shop is a logistical move for those unhappy with the buses. They have the license to work on buses, that is not an issue. The issue is whether they are also allowed to work on antique cars within the four walls that are already there. I hardly believe that the number of antique cars that they might work on in one year will pose any kind of health hazard that the fleet of the daily mail trucks or idling cars at D.D. pose. This is an excuse to run them under, so the property will be sold for more taxes. I believe I saw a few $$$ in the eyes of some board members.
The elderly that say they just want some bushes and screening were surprisingly vicious about it. What they are doing isn’t getting them to this end, except with the possibility that someone “tidier” might move in when the Gulbankians are bankrupt. I always imagined this older generation being the example of how to treat people regardless of money, social status, occupation, and when a member of the community is down on their luck. I know my grandmothers would have been ashamed of such behavior, or me for that matter had I not been a caring citizen to a family that has seen illness, loss of business as a result, and three young families hanging on by a thread. This is where I believe “Newbie” plays a role. You would not act this way to people that you have history with.

14 carrie alpert August 1, 2010 at 9:01 PM

if what you speak of is true “disheartened” then shame on the lot of them–i could proliferate on the topic but you pretty much summed it up.

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