DERRY — For the past several years, Catherine Ritchey was using her East Broadway apartment as the home office for her towing business without realizing she needed a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustments to run the business.
Last week, the ZBA granted permission for Ritchey to legally operate a home office and to park one flatbed tow truck at her four-unit 83 East Broadway apartment building.
Code enforcement officer Robert Mackey said he became aware of the business when a resident of the apartment building complained about diesel fumes from one of the two flatbed trucks kept on the property.
“I think they have tried to address that since then,” said Mackey, noting that Ritchey now has one of the trucks parked off-site.
Once the business came to Mackey’s attention, he said he told Ritchey she would have to go through the special exception process with the ZBA.
ZBA chairman Allan Virr asked Ritchey how long she had been in business and why she had not previously applied for the special exception.
Ritchey said the town’s assessing website had the building listed as a commercial, not a residential, property and she did not realize she needed the exception. She said she moved the business to her apartment about two years ago.
Eric Piatt, the owner of a neighboring building, said neither he nor any of his tenants have had an issue with Ritchey or her business.
“The sound has been very minimal, if there has been any at all,” said Piatt.
Ritchey said she uses her apartment only to park the flatbed and to do office work. She said there are no customers who come to her business nor are there any cars brought back to her address.
“I’m contracted with Insurance Auto Auctions out of Salem,” she said. “My truck leaves in the morning, is gone for the day, and then returns in the early evening.”
The ZBA unanimously approved the special exception, with Virr noting that while there was a previous complaint about diesel fumes, no one came forward to address the issue at the public hearing.