Business owner seeks to reopen abandoned gas station on Main Street

By Lydia Goerner | Jun 26, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat The abandoned gas station on Main Street will be in use again if Ossama Mohamed is granted a special variance.

The abandoned gas station at 307 Main Street may be restored and open for business again if one Wareham resident gets his way.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing next month to consider a petition from Ossama Mohamed to reestablish the use of the gas station.

According to Town Planner Kenneth Buckland, a property is officially considered abandoned locally and by the state after it has remained vacant for two years.

Gas stations are not permitted under any zoning district in Wareham because of a town meeting decision. Pre-existing gas stations are protected, but since the time of protection lapsed while the gas station on Main Street was vacant, Mohamed will need a use variance since a gas station is not an allowed use.

In order for this abandoned gas station at 307 Main Street to become a gas station again, the Zoning Board has to give a use variance to Mohamed.

A use variance is a “very special exception,” Buckland said. Deciding factors on whether to grant a use variance are the condition of property and whether there is hardship created by the specific circumstances. Another stipulation is that granting variants must be unusual.

“It’s a difficult hurdle to get over,” Buckland said. “It doesn’t happen often.”

Mohamed currently owns the property and has paid taxes on it for more than two years. He has maintained the property, fixing the concrete and potholes at the gas station.

Mohamed, who also owns Sam’s Gas at 274 Marion Road, said he wanted to reopen the gas station several years ago but was told to wait. Main Street was undergoing a “streetscape” beautification process at the time and Mohamed said the town told him to open the gas station after it was finished. When Mohamed decided to begin the process of reopening the gas station, he was told it is now considered abandoned.

“It’s in their hands,” Mohamed said. “I didn’t get notice about losing time to reopen it. People told me I’m ignorant of the law, but I’m a businessman, not a lawyer.”

The public hearing will be held on July 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 320 of the Wareham Multi-Service Center, 48 Marion Road.

Comments (16)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 26, 2017 15:14

Lydia, thanks for reporting those good facts in support of the business owner.  That sure was a squid-like move! The town told the guy to wait and then they tell him he can't open his business because he waited. Geeze, what kind of rotten set-up is that?

 

It's no secret that the town would rather have dilapidated empty properties instead of appealing thriving businesses. Good job at making Wareham better!

 

I noticed the business owner's name. I would hate to think that there is any discrimination going on in these sensitive times.  That wouldn't be right.



Posted by: bob | Jun 26, 2017 17:13

Gee,But where will our FIRE DISTRICT OFFICERS park there nice shinny vehicles...



Posted by: cranky pants | Jun 26, 2017 18:32

I'd rather have it open than having those tanks underground just sitting there empty. Go for it !



Posted by: Newlyaresident | Jun 27, 2017 07:11

The rule is the stupidest thing I ever heard. After 2 years, the same type business cannot open with a variance? It's a gas station, presumably with underground tanks already in place. It shouldn't be a "big hurdle". It should be just a matter of common sense!



Posted by: desertsky | Jun 27, 2017 07:30

sure sounds like a sneaky move...maybe with a show of support at the public hearing this business owner can reap what he's been trying to sow by following the ridiculous town zoning laws.  Some revitalization...



Posted by: Randall Stephens | Jun 27, 2017 08:50

Wareham is now DISCOURAGING  businesses on Main Street ? An empty building has someone who wants to open it , AND WE ARE SAYING NO ???? I don't quite understand !

 



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 27, 2017 09:11

You got it Randall!  That gas station is another eyesore right in the middle of our street scaped prettied up downtown.  Why on Earth would they try to stop a man trying to improve it?  Ever live in a dorm?  Remember the RAs?  Often weak little nerds with a tiny bit of power. That's how our town is about stuff like this.  Toss out all commonsense due to a technicality.  One stupid rule allowing them to deny and say no gives them purpose...just like a weak zit faced RA in a dorm...



Posted by: felinesmom | Jun 27, 2017 09:47

This property owner should get himself a good lawyer and fight this.  There is a difference between your business being closed waiting for others (the town) to finish up other work, and the business being abandoned.  If he was fixing up the site, I would not call that abandoned either.  Is there someone else who wants this property and by denying its usage, will no doubt be up for sale soon?



Posted by: baron1701@yahoo.com | Jun 27, 2017 10:22

I imagine there must be more to this story - I cant imagine that the property was abandoned, he was paying taxes and maintaining it. Someone suggested that there could be another party interested in the lot - that may be, sounds like local politics. Let see if we can get people to show up and ask some questions. Its a late meeting and im going to try to make it.



Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jun 27, 2017 10:34

That would likely be the fire department, which already has their name on the building to the northwest.

 

I don't know if this abandonment rule is a state law or local ordinance.  Either way, it's simply pencil scratchings--SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE decided it was a good idea so they capriciously wrote it down.  It's not like a basic law of nature, or even written in stone.

 

How can a property be abandoned if the property owner is paying the taxes on it?  This regulation is absurd on its face, and will only be burdensome if the Zoning Board of Appeals chooses to make it so.  Which, given the tone of Buckland's ramblings, they intend to do.



Posted by: brazz | Jun 27, 2017 18:09

This smell like complete BS. That gas station looks better "Abandoned" than most stations in Wareham. Can't help but to think of "eminent domain"



Posted by: cranapple | Jun 28, 2017 07:19

Hope renovates it!



Posted by: workinJoe | Jun 28, 2017 08:54

Mohamed is a straight up gentleman. I have heard widows and finacially strapped neighbors retell how fairly he treats them when fixing their cars, he is a wonderful example of how a local businessman can serve the community. I will attend any town meeting he needs support. If you have a similar experience let's all show up in support! -David Ricci



Posted by: Kress | Jun 29, 2017 07:55

According to public record, the owner purchased the property Nov. 12, 2013.

 

Other towns (ie., Wrentham) have same zoning regulations, so this one is not unique to Wareham.  I would think that the owner would have known about this reg either before or shortly after purchasing the property.   And, indeed he admitted he knew.  It was his choice to wait.



Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 29, 2017 10:24

Kress, you are 100% correct.  Rules are rules.  Note my comparison to a college RA. Some like to hide behind rules instead of being reasonable.

 

It would have been fair if they clearly explained that to him when they told him to wait until after the streetscape was complete.  That's where it got unfair for this guy.  I would have said something like "Mr. Mohammed, we think it's a good idea for you to wait until after the streetscape is complete BUT be aware that there's a rule about 2 years..."  That is called fair communication.  Instead it sounds like they set this poor guy up.

 

Rumor has it that the town wants it because it's sandwiched between two Fire District properties and because its blocking the fancy new train station. That's really squidlike if that ends up being the truth.  If they want it for the Fire Department or the Train Station they should go about it in a more above the belt manner.  Instead it looks like they want to screw this guy over to get what they want.

 

Not to drift away from the gas station.  This makes me think of the Swift's Beach debacle from 10+ years ago. Luckily the property owner eventually laughed her way to the bank after that saga. She made out extremely well financially, but she lost the property to the town and endured a painful fight to get compensated. Take a look down there now. It's beautiful. The town has done so much with it.  It was certainly worth the $2+ million. They build a bathhouse, a snack bar, and a parking lot.  It attracts tourists, provides summer jobs, and generates revenue. It looks great. Other towns are jealous. No, wait...I must have had a dream about that. It hasn't been touched.  Silly me. It's just another overgrown eyesore. Good plan!



Posted by: totellthetruth | Jun 30, 2017 19:57

If its nothing else, its a great spot to spy on Mr.Mrs. Osprey and the kid(s).



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