New curbs are causing conflict in Somerville, Massachusetts, and a local landowner is fighting back. He has decided to sue the city after he says the barriers popped up without warning right in front of his property. The city says they are only there to improve safety and are likely temporary.
The building at 47 Webster Ave. has been in George Hara’s family since 1970, and he says there have always been two ramps to enter and exit the property. But a few weeks ago, he walked out to find several curb stops that had been installed right in front of the garages that he leases out to two different businesses.
"Furious. I was furious," Haras said. "They’re supposed to give notice."
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Haras claims the city did not notify him about the barriers that he says have become a tight squeeze for his tenants, which include an auto glass company. They only way out of the property now is on a one way street.
Haras says after his calls to the city to get them removed were unsuccessful, he and his family decided to file a lawsuit against the city. It is not their first legal action against Somerville.
They are also fighting a plan that involves their land being taken by way of eminent domain for the Union Square revitalization project. Haras believes the curbs have something to do with that fight because he claims they devalue the property.
"Eminent domain means they will give you market value, but value is an issue when you play games and this is part of their game," Haras said.
The city of Somerville could not comment on the specific litigation, but could provide information about why the temporary barriers are up. In a statement, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Brad Rawson said:
"To address safety and mobility needs, the City of Somerville is currently completing a major traffic change in the area, which includes converting both streets adjacent to this property from one-way to two-way. Traffic pattern changes of this magnitude tend to require a period of months for travelers to adjust. As a result, the City’s project plans include various temporary traffic control measures that can easily be adjusted and/or removed as the new pattern is established over a period of months. The City has been monitoring traffic volumes and crash reports in the vicinity to inform any needed adjustments to the configuration. Our selection of temporary concrete curbing at Webster Avenue as well as safety barrels elsewhere along the length of the route and flexible bollards in the affected area reflect the City’s understanding that these barriers could be easily adjusted and/or removed."
There is a hearing on the original lawsuit from the owners of the Webster Avenue property set for Nov. 15 in Middlesex Superior Court.