WELLFLEET — A state Land Court judge is scheduled to consider a request for a preliminary injunction on Nov. 3 to stop GFM Enterprises from operating its satellite contractor’s yard at the corner of Route 6 and Old Wharf Road until three related court cases have been decided.
Attorney Carolyn Murray of KP Law, representing the town’s zoning board of appeals, filed the injunction request last month and included testimony from nearby residents about the noise, dust, and vibration the operation has created in their neighborhood.
Attorney Ben Zehnder, who represents Great White Realty, the owner of the property, and GFM Enterprises, the Dennis-based excavating company using the land, submitted his opposing arguments a week ago.
Zehnder argues that the zoning board is not likely to prevail in the court case, which is a factor judges consider in reviewing preliminary injunction bids. He also argues that Great White Realty and GFM would suffer more harm from the injunction being granted than the town’s zoning board would suffer if it were not.
The dispute over the property began in January 2021, when Great White Realty, whose principals are Donna and Steve DiGiovanni of Truro, purchased the wooded lot at 1065 Route 6. Within days, and without securing permits, they cut down most of the trees, stripped topsoil, and started grading the land.
Then-building inspector Paul Fowler issued a cease-and-desist order, which was upheld by the zoning board. But Great White appealed the town’s action in Land Court in May 2021. Since then, two further appeals of other enforcement actions merged with the first. The cases are expected to go to trial soon.
Zehnder, on behalf of Great White and GFM, has argued that the town’s zoning bylaw allows a contractor’s yard on the property “by right,” that is, without the need for a permit, because it is in a commercial zone.
In his 24-page statement opposing the preliminary injunction request, Zehnder wrote that the town’s zoning board “has provided affidavits from neighbors about vibration, dust and noise, and asserts this is counter to public policy.” Zehnder added, “It is unreasonable to assume that normal development or improvement of a property for permitted uses is harmful to a town or runs counter to public policy.”
Meanwhile, GFM and Great White “will suffer demonstrable, irreparable harm if they cannot use the property” until the appeals are settled, Zehnder said.
GFM owner Gregory Morris submitted testimony on the harm his business would suffer under an injunction. The company’s main contractor’s yard is in Dennis. In the past, GFM leased space for equipment and supplies for use on the Outer Cape at a business in Truro.
Morris said the Truro property owner informed him in 2020 that the space would no longer be available to him. He searched for a new location but was unable to find one, he testified.
Donna DiGiovanni is a GFM employee and a friend, Morris testified. Steve DiGiovanni is also a friend, said Morris. When the Wellfleet property came up for sale, the DiGiovannis purchased it with the intention of leasing it to Morris as a satellite contractor’s yard.
“GFM is currently working on 19 projects in the Outer Cape towns,” Morris said.
If GFM cannot store trucks, equipment, and supplies for septic and drainage systems in Wellfleet, he said, he would have to spend more on transporting those things from Dennis.
Morris also said he is paying $2,500 per month to rent the Wellfleet property and $3,000 per year to insure it.