Feud simmers on the waterfront

Two Weymouth neighbors at odds for years

By Matt Carroll
Globe Staff / November 12, 2009

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It’s a battle between the Hatfields and the McCoys, Weymouth style.

Two neighbors on the waterfront of Mill Cove, near the Fore River Bridge, have been fighting for more than a decade over everything from docks to signs, from alleged liquid pollutants to clouds of smoke, with no end in sight.

Mike Scalisi owns a boatyard, Scalisi Marine, on Pearl Street, and lives with his wife next door. On the other side of the business sits the Brewster Road home of Angel Montanez Jr., who has taken up a fight that started when his father lived there.

At Town Hall, fat file after fat file in various town departments, from building to conservation, details years of strife beginning in the 1980s. And the documents reflect only part of the conflict; state and federal regulators have their own files.

In an interview at his house, Montanez complained that town officials ignore him. He has provided them with videotapes of the Scalisi business demonstrating, he says, that laws are being broken. His latest tape shows a boat hull being cleaned, leaving behind reddish muck that is shoveled into the water by a Scalisi employee.

“This is about [Scalisi] breaking the law, the town being notified and doing nothing about it,’’ said Montanez, a member of the merchant marine who spends months at sea each year. “They turn a blind eye.’’

As a result of the latest Montanez video, Scalisi said, he’s facing a $5,700 fine from the state Office of Coastal Zone Management, and a hearing on Dec. 10. Scalisi said the shoveled material consisted mostly of mussels, and he intends to appeal.

Scalisi, 59, said the ongoing saga has taken an emotional toll on him and his family, while he has worked hard to fix legitimate complaints.

Have there been real problems? Yes, he said, sometimes his business was not as careful or as quick to comply with environmental regulations as it should have been. But when a problem is pointed out, Scalisi said, he does his best to fix it.

But, according to the business owner, that does not excuse Montanez’s behavior, which he said can be relentless.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home to find my wife crying,’’ said Scalisi. “I feel guilty I talked her into buying this place and subjected her to 25 years of this.’’

The boatyard opened in the residential neighborhood’s tight confines in the 1950s. Scalisi bought it in the early 1980s and employs seven people, including his wife.

Most of the complaints start with Montanez, who through the years has written long letters to town officials alleging all sorts of problems. He has complained about trash, about the approved method for power-washing boats, about where Scalisi works on the boats. His complaints - phone calls, e-mails, letters - number in the hundreds.

Nearly every complaint bears only Montanez’s name, though the father of two says the whole neighborhood is upset with Scalisi.

Almost all of the complaints have been dismissed by town, state, or federal officials, or the problems fixed. Some past disputes ended with Scalisi getting written up or paying fines of $100 to $200 for such violations as not using a dustless sander.

In 2006, Montanez wrote to the town alleging 17 problems at the boatyard, ranging from trash along the fence to extra signs on the main building. The sign was ordered down, while no action was taken on most of the other items after officials reported not finding a problem. A few items were referred to different departments.

In addition to the recent tape of the hull-cleaning residue, Montanez shot a video apparently showing liquid being pumped from a boat onto the ground next to his property line.

Montanez said the muck and liquid are contaminated, probably hazardous, and should be dealt with properly, not just discarded on the ground or into the water.

“What would you do if you were a town official and you saw this video?’’ said Montanez. “They take no responsibility. You’d think they’d want to enforce the law, but no.’’

In a memo, town officials said the water appeared to have some organic matter in it and smelled stagnant. A slight “glycol-like odor,’’ was reported, possibly from antifreeze, so Scalisi was ordered to dig up and dispose of the soil.

Whatever triggered the first conflict was forgotten decades ago.

At the beginning, the neighbors got along, with the Montanezes borrowing tools on occasion. Scalisi said he has worked to appease Montanez. When the family wanted to put in a pool a few years ago, which required a variance, Scalisi said, he didn’t object.

In the mid-1990s, Montanez fought Scalisi’s attempt to get federal permits to use docks already in place. Montanez said Scalisi’s docks impeded access to his own boat dock. Scalisi said Montanez had built an illegal dock on town property.

Eventually, the men agreed to drop their complaints about the docks, according to town documents.

But the truce fell apart almost as soon as it was announced. William C. Woodward, a member of the town’s Conservation Commission at the time, wrote that Montanez had complained again to the Army Corps of Engineers and “it was apparent that Mr. Montanez had reneged on our original agreement.’’

In the end, both obtained their dock permits.

“It’s affected every aspect of my life,’’ said Scalisi, a father of three and a grandfather of four. “I’m passing my business to my kid. Am I doing the right thing to have him deal with Angel Montanez for years to come? It’s really tough.’’

Matt Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@