LYNNFIELD — As a five-member panel decides the fate of a 117-year-old water company on Lowell Street, the owner is giving away H2O.
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is set to hear a case Tuesday on whether to allow the Boston Clear Water Co. to continue its operation. The complaint, brought by Mary Bliss, Andrew Gallucci, Willis O’Brien, and John Sievers, alleges the firm is violating the town’s zoning bylaws.
Earlier this year, the four abutters asked the building inspector to shut the mineral spring water business down. But in a letter to the neighbors, John Roberto, Lynnfield’s building inspector, declined to close the business, noting he is not convinced the company is operating illegally.
So the neighbors appealed to the ZBA. They argue that whether Boston Clear Water was ever allowed to operate as a lawful pre-existing, nonconforming use prior to the adoption of zoning, those uses were abandoned for two years, and as a result it is no longer protected.
They want the company to “immediately and forever cease and desist from all commercial use and related activity at the site,” according to documents filed with the ZBA. They also demand that the town order Boston Clear to demolish the 2,100-square-foot wood-frame building.
The mineral spring water is priced at 50 cents a gallon, and $2.50 for a five-gallon jug. By contrast, a gallon of Poland Spring Water costs $1.19 at Shaw’s Supermarket while a five-gallon jug of mineral water costs $13.98 at Home Depot.
But for a short time, Boston Clear Water is offering free water to residents who are supplied by the Lynnfield Center Water District. The company has opened a vending machine that is dispensing free water to those who provide a copy of their water bill. The offer will last through Monday, Sept. 10.
Anthony Gattineri, manager of Snakebite Realty LLC of Winchester, purchased the Pocahontas Spring Water Co. in 2014 for $435,000. He said he bought the business for one reason: to provide mineral water to the region.
“Boston Clear was established to provide nourishing water in a world that is, sadly, lacking it,” he said. “At a time where there is uncertainty about the drinking water in Lynnfield, we wanted to be a part of the solution. We cannot sit idly by in what we see as a growing crisis.”
Gattineri, who raised a family in Lynnfield, said he doesn’t understand why a handful of neighbors are trying to shut down his business. He said the operation is no different under his stewardship than the previous owners.
“We’ve had to amass thousands of documents and thousands of attorneys’ hours to prove something we never had to prove to begin with,” Gattineri said.