What’s going on with this site behind Latitude Sports Club on Route 1?

23 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We’ll bring you more details as they develop, but for now I just wanted to give you a heads up on another quality of life, and potential public safety issue that’s brewing on Route 1.


Latitude Sports Club is to the upper right. The triangular paved area to the left is the property in question. Pine Street runs across the bottom of the image.

The developer who owns the land on which the Latitude Sports Club was developed, has leased a parcel behind the club to a landscaping company.

We hear that the landscaping company has a conditional permit from the city to operate, but that there are some serious questions about what affect this operation will have on the extensive wetlands adjacent to the site.  There are also additional public safety concerns around the fact that there is no fire hydrant on site, yet there is potential for flammable chemicals, such a fertilizer. Mulch, as we’ve seen, is also flammable. The site runs parallel to Pine Street, where there are several homes.

It also sounds like city officials, including the current ward councilor for this area, are trying to keep this quiet until a proper permit can be worked out. For example, no elected official has asked the building department to slap a cease and desist order on this company until the concerns can  be addressed. They continue to operate, which sounds like business as usual on Route 1 when it comes to developers.

We’ve also learned that people who work for departments whose job it is to protect residents and our environment, have voiced their concerns to city officials, and have been told to stand down for now.

More to come, but if anyone in our audience knows more, please send me a confidential message.



20 Responses to “What’s going on with this site behind Latitude Sports Club on Route 1?”

  1. Reality check May 23, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Like happens all the time the problem here isn’t with this landscaping company. They are just trying to run a business. The problem is with city officials who always seem to cut this particular developer a break on everything. They are dragging their feet here so this guy, who is a part of their boys club, can keep collecting his rent. Screw the residents again! Who cares, right?

  2. Anonymous May 23, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Bob, Although this google map aerial photo depicts a time stamp of 2014, this photo is not at all current. The current state of this property looks nothing like this. There are several plows, diesel trucks, fertilizers, a big yellow tank, a temparary trailer, a “lean-too” type of structure, not to mention 2 big mounds of mulch. Take a ride by and look for yourselves. Maybe Russell Donovan can speculate on this situation, I have always cast a vote in his direction due to his concerns over environmental issues. You reading Russ??

    • Bob Croce May 23, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Thanks for the update. I knew that was probably the case, but I also wanted to show people exactly where it is. I’m sure some people will now be curious enough to ride out and take a look for themselves

      Seems to me that having two giant piles of mulch, yet no fire hydrant is a major safety concern. What are your thoughts on why the city is still allowing them to operate?

    • Russ Donovan May 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Hello. Let me keep this simple. Years ago (Pre 2006 Mother’s Day flood) the City Council got a petition to allow development of the old Junkyard which after heated debate was denied by the City Council After political influence the petition was re-introduced and granted. ( Even after the Mother’s Day Storm!) The City Council RE-WROTE the wetlands conservancy district to LOWER the water level In that area which had protected this area from development ( the difference of a couple feet). Now thanks to the City Council’s re-zoning this land was opened to development. The protections under the Wetlands Conservancy district were eliminated. Neighbors were free to fill in their back yards which they did. Now, they are complaining about the developer(s). The same ones they supported for the re-zoning. This land is critical to the flooding of downtown Peabody but nobody is listening!

      • I know the truth May 23, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

        Russ, we all know what happened under the Bonfanti administration to let this all happen. My question was what, if any laws are being broken by the landscape company currently occupying that land. I am told that it all falls on the land owner and not the person doing business and paying rent there. To me it seems foolish to allow someone to set up a business out in the woods (which is exactly what this looks like). There is no hydrant back there as stated previously, and they are storing trucks, mulch, and chemicals in a wooded area that is a stones throw away from wetlands. Why is someone in city hall telling all of the inspectors to look the other way? That is the real question here, I have been told that building inspectors, electrical inspectors, and fire dept. inspectors all have found problems with this site and operation. However, they have all been told to look the other way…WHY??? I think someone is afraid of someone here, and I suggest they do what they were elected to do before I let the cat out of the bag all together.

  3. Mickey the Dunce May 23, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    I can remember several years ago that there was a tragic fire at the Dearborne Apartments. Remember the cause of the fire? It was a mulch fire that started and could not be knocked down fast enough because when the developer build the apartments there was no water tower built. Hense no way to get enough water to put it out. I guess we don’t learn from our mistakes here in 01960.

  4. Mickey the Dunce May 23, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Also forgot to mention I heard that the developer in question is currently before the con com for filling in wetlands at a new location.

  5. anonymous May 24, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Where is our ward councilor on this problem? He should be all over this instead of applying for jobs and putting up billboards. The people of ward 5 don’t deserve this.

  6. Bob Croce May 24, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Just wanted to remind people to please focus their comments on the issues here, and to try and refrain from personal attacks on individuals. I’ve had to reject several comments over the past few days, including ones that involve the family of an elected official.

    For the most part, elected officials — since they are public figures — are fair game here. But let’s please leave families and private citizens out of it.

    I also needed to reject another comment that might have insinuated too much, and even been libelous. Keep in mind that opinion is always OK, but false statements of fact can be considered libel. For example, you can certainly say that any public official is really lousy at his job. But unless you have clear proof, you cannot say he participated in some specific form of corruption. If you think you have uncovered a form of corruption, and have some proof, please send me a private message, I’ll investigate, and then decide if I should post about it.

    The reason for this blog is to not only inform, but to be a watchdog, so we definitely should be reporting things that are true and of interest to the taxpayers.

    Thanks, and keep the comments coming. This has been a record week when it comes to the number of visitors to our site.

  7. Russ Donovan May 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    To I know the truth,

    Below is an abstract Of a Legal Notice for an upcoming Conservation Commission Meeting.

    City of Peabody
    Conservation Commission
    City Hall • 24 Lowell Street • Peabody, Massachusetts 01960 • Tel. 978-538-5900





    3. A Public Hearing on a Request for Determination of Applicability submitted by John R Keilty Esquire on behalf of All Pro Landscaping Co., Inc. This is an “after the fact” filing. The landscaping company wishes to continue using this property for their daily operations. The paved portions of the property may not be meeting stormwater standards as they presently exist. The property is known 190 Rear Newbury Street, Map 23, Lot 70, Peabody MA.


    8. An Enforcement Order issued to 194 Turnpike LLC and All Pro Landscaping for the properties known as 190 and 190 Rear Newbury Street. The extent of violations is as follows: FRONT LOT: Guardrails need to be repaired along the perimeter and all debris (broken guardrails, trash and reclaimed asphalt piles) shall be removed out of the resource areas. BACK LOT: Construction of a parking lot with reclaimed bituminous asphalt without proper stormwater treatment; Stockpiling in buffer zones without proper erosion controls; Evidence of debris under parking lot (see pictures attached); Erection of structure (a company named All-Pro Landscaping office trailer and a temporary structure) as well as managing a landscaping company and storing landscaping equipment (per Fire Dept.-There is an aboveground tank which is approx. 1,000 gal of a chemical for the salt and landscaping vehicles and equipment). Front Lot Map 35, Lot 38X, back lot map 35, Lot 38A Peabody MA.

    Hope this helps.


    • Bob Croce May 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      Excellent. Thanks for posting this, Russ. So, if this is an “after the fact” application, does that mean they’ve been operating totally illegally all along on this site? I know the answer obviously. Just wanted to point out another example of how our elected officials, one in particular in this case, look the other way with a wink on these issues. I think if the fire department doesn’t issue and enforcement order, these guys would have continued to operate with impunity. The scary part is that this type of stuff is rampant on Route 1. Ward 5 Councilors over the past 25 years have — for some reason — have allowed this to go on. It’s never about the residents with these characters: it’s about making sure their developer buddies get what ever they want. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I mean, it can’t just be a case that they’re helping out their buddies? Must be some other benefit, don’t you think?

  8. I know the truth May 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Russ. Thank you. This is the Russ Donovan I voted for. I am wondering if the Developer of the Land is also before the Con Com the same night for filling in wetlands in another area in Peabody? Also, while I have your attention why do you think that several city inspectors have been told to look the other way on this matter? One would think that no having a water supply back there would be a big deal! Something else I heard is that a representative from the Con Com has been looking and dealing with this site for over 2 1/2 years now, but they continue to operate. Your feedback is necessary.

    • Russ Donovan May 25, 2014 at 1:05 am #

      The ConCom has reviewed this area for many many years before and after the City Council took away the Wetlands Conservancy District protection there. You mention lack of water supply. Ironic that area I believe is part of the underground aquifer for the old Johnson Pine St Peabody water supply wells which were contaminated by the old Billiards place on Rte 1. Water, water everywhere but none fit to drink. The wetlands protection was the only thing stopping developers as it prohibited filling and development. Observers of Latitudes project have noted how much fill the developer put in the that project. They must have raised elevation by 6-10 feet in that area to assure against flooding.
      Shortly after the rezoning a developer tried several different iterations, apartment complex, a nursing home, a multi-generational educational center, etc. in the back area. All of which may have needed rezoning, special permits or exemption from zoning went before various city boards and the City Council.
      Developers will not quit. It is the nature of the beast and that is why they needed the protection of the Wetlands Conservancy removed.

      As to whether city inspectors were instructed to look the other way, I have no knowledge but I do believe developers are given the white glove treatment for the promises they present to the city, real or imagined. Reminds me of the promises of income from the newly approved formerly prohibited billboard zoning. For your info. this area is illustrated as re-zoned the new BR-1(Billboards) on the City’s zoning map. Look forward to a new billboard right up front. The setback reg. is only 20 ft. from the road. Another perfect location in Ward 5. The height shouldn’t be a problem as the road dips so low there on Rte.1 .

      It is getting late. Good night

  9. Anonymous May 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Bob Croce, when is the last time you were elected for anything in the city of Peabody? Who are you? The constituents of Peabody clearly do not want you voted into office, give up! Also, I have traveled all over the country and have seen gorgeous suburbs that are at the same socioeconomic level as Peabody. Peabody is far from progressive and turning into a disaster of a suburb. This is certainly not a place I want my children to grow up, the reason not being a single landscaping company in the woods. Lets talk about a lackluster school system that barely got accredited, roads plagued by pot holes, poor snow removal management all winter, and hesitancy to bring in tourism and local businesses in downtown Peabody. Mr. Croce, do you remember when Peabody stored thousands of pounds of salt adjacent to the wetlands at Cy Tenney Park. I will tell you that Peabody city officials weren’t concerned at that point in time. The rules always seem to bend accordingly. How about we start focusing our attention on important issues before Peabody becomes Lynn II. Peabody is an embarrassing disaster as to how a city should be officiated. Can’t have your cake and eat it too!

  10. Bob Croce May 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I don’t really understand how on one hand you attack me for writing about a quality of life issue, and then you start talking about OTHER quality of life issues that need the attention of Peabody’s elected officials. I think we’re on the same side here, but somehow you don’t get that.

    Who cares if I’m elected or not? I’m a taxpayer and a citizen. And all taxpayers and citizens should be speaking out when they see things that jeopardize our quality of life. The “single landscaping company in the woods,” is definitely a concern if you care about us having a safe drinking water supply, and care about the safety of those who live nearby.

    Wetlands drain into creeks, which eventually drain into the Ipswich River, where much of our public water supply comes from. I’m not saying that’s happening on the site in question, but if we don’t force them to have the proper permits and oversight, it certainly could. What about fire safety? There’s no fire hydrant near that “harmless landscaping company in the woods.” You definitely must not live on Pine Street.

    I kind of think that safe drinking water, and peoples’ houses not burning down might be even MORE important than anything that’s going on in our school system. Good schools are important, but they’re also meaningless if we can’t protect the health and safety of our children. Maybe you should do a little research on the tragedy that happened over the water in Woburn 30 years ago.

    Finally, before you criticize anyone for running for office — whether they win or lose — maybe you need a little bit of the courage it takes to put your name on a ballot and put yourself on the line. Until then, feel free to cowardly hide behind anonymous screen names. Thanks for posting. Have a nice day.

  11. Sgt. Schultz May 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Great response Bob! I am hearing that there is more in the pipeline that will be coming out soon. Keep fighting the good fight.

  12. racroce May 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks. Sarge!

  13. Anonymous May 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Glad to know the city officials and non city officials have been sleeping for over 5 years as the landscaping business has been there since 2010 and no one ever had a problem with it. Now all of a sudden there are going to be fires and contaminated drinking water? What is wrong with Peabody and their opposition to small businesses? The water would have been contaminated a long time ago from the salt pile at the Cy Tenney Park. (another double standard). Leave the person alone that is just trying to run a business and make a living. I think there are more pertinent issues in the City of Peabody that should be addressed.

  14. who is to blame here? May 30, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    I have been following this story pretty closely, and I have heard different stories from every person that i talk to about it. Some say that the land owner is responsible for the property and others blame the company doing business there. All I have to say is this: 1.) If there is no water source there to knock down a fire than there should be nobody back there doing business. 2.) If there are wetland buffer issues that are, or have been compromised then the business should be fined and moved out of there. 3.) If this business has been spoken to about this stuff, then why did they just get 2 huge mounds of mulch dropped on the property? 4.) If the land owner is currently breaking wetland laws in other areas of the city right now, than why would we allow him to continue operating in Peabody? On the other side of the fence here are a couple of questions: 1.) Do the neighbors on Pine street want to look out there windows and see commercial condos? 2.)to the person commenting above…what year was the salt dropped in CyTenny park? Whom was the mayor at the time?

    We know we can not fix a problem that happened years ago, much like the complete catastrophy that happened at Spring Pond under the Bonfanti administration, but we can act on issues that we recognize. It is much better to be pro-active than reactive and eliminate any possible problems before they happen. Let’s see, the Con Com has been investigating this for several years now, but I am willing to bet that nothing will be done until the state steps in. AND THEY HAVE BEEN CALLED! Can the city get fined for not following through on it’s obligation to keep it’s own wetlands and water protected? More coming soon…

    • Anonymous June 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Are you serious..Are you from Peabody? The city of Peabody had a salt barn down the back of the baseball field (in the wetlands) for many years under Mayor Torigian.

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