NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 25, 2013

Town manager calls on citizens group to refute accusations

(Continued)

Yesterday, Duggan said he didn’t call the town before printing the story because he intends to write a series of stories -- one each month -- on the Tomasellis dispute. The story that appeared in the September issue gave the Tomaselli’s a “voice,” he said, and the chance to air their views.

Duggan hopes to contact town officials to get its side of the issue for future stories.

“I”m not skewed to one side or the other,” Duggan said. “I’m not for or against the Tomasellis.”

However, Duggan said Harrington should have called him before making his comments against the article at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, which was broadcast live.

“He should have called me before making such statements at a public forum,” Duggan said.

Harrington feels the same way, believing Duggan should have called him before presenting the Tomaselli’s accusations without hearing the town’s point of view.

The case revolves around a long-standing feud between the Tomasellis and town officials, related to the sewer betterment and other sewer fees on the property they purchased in 1991 to establish their restaurant, named Mangia, above which they lived. The betterment charge related to the installation of the town sewer lines, plus the construction of Salisbury’s sewer treatment plant decades ago.

The sisters claim they didn’t know about the betterment fee and wouldn’t have purchased the Salisbury property if they had. They’ve sued over this issue numerous times, however, to date, they haven’t won any of those legal battles, although one suit is still pending in federal court in Boston.

This issue and its lawsuits go back to 1994, when the sisters failed to pay the sewer betterment charge assessed to their property, which resulted their inability to obtain the business and liquor licenses, as well as other permits they needed to run the restaurant, eventually leading to its closure.

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