NORTH SMITHFIELD – Dozens of inoperable buses that have occupied two North Smithfield properties for decades have finally left town.
United Truck Bus Service Co. and First Student, Inc. are cleaning up lots on Railroad Street and Comstock Road, long known as the town’s “bus graveyards.”
The progress comes following a letters sent to two states from town Building & Zoning Official Larry Enright.
Considered an eyesore by many, the highly-visible property at 25 Railroad St. has been used for storage of the mostly junk vehicles going many years. Town property records show the 2-acre lot, which holds an 880-square-foot garage built in 1978, has been owned by United Truck & Bus Service Company since at least 1999.
Town Council President John Beauregard brought attention to the property in January after noticing that most of the vehicles were never cleaned off after a snow storm that month. He brought the issue to former Building Official Kerry Anderson, who sent a letter to First Student in Providence, believed to be the parent company the parked vehicles, regarding violations of the town’s zoning ordinances.
Anderson retired in April, and Enright took over the town’s building and zoning department soon after.
On Thursday, April 19, the new town official sent a second communication, this time to United Truck Bus Service Co. care of Ducharme McMillen & Associates, noting the property was cited for multiple property maintenance code violations in 2013 and 2014.
“One of the violations was the storage of unlicensed (unregistered) and inoperative vehicles, which is prohibited,” in a business neighborhood zoning district, Enright wrote, noting that at the time, he saw what appeared to be around 30 inoperable busses located on the lot.
Enright also targeted the Comstock Road lot, sending that communication to First Student Inc. care of Marvin Poer, to a P.O. box in Dallas, Texas.
And after years of inactivity, it was clear this week that the owners took heed.
As of Thursday, May 26, less than one quarter of the orange/yellow vehicles remained on Railroad Street, and most were parked toward the back of the property, far less visible to those traveling along Route 5.
“They started to remove a lot of the buses that were inoperable,” said Enright. “Some are going to remain there but I think they’re only going to be operable buses.”
Enright said that many of the vehicles shipped away likely couldn’t be started, with missing headlights and no registration.
“I think they were using them for parts,” he said, noting progress has also been made at Comstock, at a property tucked away down the dead end street.
“They’re doing the same thing over there,” Enright said.