Car mogul buys out neighbor to settle dispute

Lawsuit had been filed over removal of trees

The gated Sumner Street main entrance to Ernie Boch Jr.’s Norwood estate. The auto dealership owner recently settled a dispute with a neighboring couple by buying their property. The gated Sumner Street main entrance to Ernie Boch Jr.’s Norwood estate. The auto dealership owner recently settled a dispute with a neighboring couple by buying their property. (Photos By Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File 2010)
By Emily Sweeney
Globe Staff / November 21, 2010

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If you can’t beat him in a quarrel over your property, sell it to him.

That’s apparently what a Norwood couple have done with their house after battling Route 1 Automile king Ernie Boch Jr. over a row of backyard trees.

Glenn A. and Elise M. Arrigo, whose property is next door to the car mogul’s, filed a lawsuit in January accusing Boch of removing some pine trees that they say he had agreed to preserve — a move they contended robbed them of their privacy and lowered the value of their home. Boch said he had no choice but to remove the trees: An arborist determined that they had to come down, and they were on his property. He said he planted new trees in their place.

But, no matter: The feud appears to have been settled. Boch recently bought the Arrigo home at 4 Plymouth Drive. (The sale price: $700,000, according to real estate records.) He took possession of the house on Nov. 8, and the lawsuit was dismissed the following day in Norfolk Superior Court.

“I’m extremely happy with the outcome,’’ Boch said in an interview Wednesday. “I feel I have a great relationship with my neighbors.’’

Reached by phone, Elise Arrigo confirmed Boch bought her property “two or three weeks ago.’’ She declined to be interviewed, saying, “We had to sign a confidentiality agreement.’’

Boch, though, said that as far as the Arrigos were concerned, “I’m very happy they left the neighborhood.’’

The Bochs and Arrigos had lived next to each other for more than a decade in the quiet residential area close to the Automile, the Route 1 strip made famous by Boch’s late father, Ernie, who coined the company’s catch phrase “Come on down!’’ and built the family car dealership into a billion-dollar business empire.

Boch lives in a stately brick mansion facing Sumner Street. Since moving there in 1997, he has expanded his estate by purchasing smaller homes around it.

The Arrigos’ home is a relatively modest, two-story Colonial on Plymouth Drive. The couple bought the four-bedroom house in 1985 and raised their three children there. The property abuts the Boch estate, with their backyard facing the rear of Boch’s mansion.

The Arrigos’ beef with the Bochs began a little more than five years ago when Boch bought a house next door and decided to build an indoor swimming pool in its place. In August 2005, when Boch applied for a special permit to build the pool, the Arrigos asked Boch to preserve the row of tall pine trees that grew along the perimeter of that property, which also abuts their backyard. The Arrigos planted the trees more than 20 years ago, with the blessing of their former neighbors.

When the town granted a zoning variance to Boch for the pool, the Arrigos appealed the decision in Norfolk Superior Court. They eventually dropped their appeal in August 2006, after Boch agreed that no “matured pines’’ next to the Arrigos’ property would be removed, that the fence would remain in the same location, and that no lights would shine on the Arrigos’ property, according to the lawsuit.

The Arrigos said that during the construction project they had to endure loud noise, dust, and workers walking through their yard. Then in October 2008, Elise Arrigo said, she looked out the bathroom window and saw a crane pulling out the 18 pines, one by one.

Boch said he had no choice but to remove the trees because an arborist had determined their root systems were damaged and they were in danger of falling down. He planted new trees in their place.

But the Arrigos filed their lawsuit in US District Court in January, alleging that Boch breached their original agreement by removing the trees and aiming spotlights and security cameras on their property. The Arrigos also said their lawn was damaged when the new fence was installed, that “the overreaching and gaudy expansion of Boch’s mansion’’ disrupted their lives for years, and that, because of the situation, Glenn Arrigo developed asthma and became so stressed that he could no longer work.

Boch denied the allegations, and said the lawsuit was without merit. He said he never aimed cameras and lights toward the Arrigos’ property and his contractors were always respectful of his neighbors.

In the lawsuit, the Arrigos sought compensatory damages, punitive damages, damages for pain and suffering, and lawyer’s fees, costs, and expenses. What they got, apparently, was a real estate deal.

The Arrigos had offered to sell their house to Boch several years ago, but Boch, in an interview earlier this year, called their asking price “ridiculous amounts of money’’ and said he declined. Last week, he said he decided to buy the house because “it borders my property, I had the opportunity, and I took it.’’

The Arrigos’ lawyer, Theodore H. Goguen Jr., could not be reached for comment.

Boch’s lawyer, Mark W. Corner, declined to comment, saying, “The case is settled. The terms are confidential.’’

Boch said he plans to incorporate his newly acquired property with the rest of his estate.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.