The state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has suspended Ellery Garage's towing license for 60 days beginning October 1, marking the latest and most serious governmental action taken against the beleaguered Cambridge towing operation in the last three months.
The DPU's decision to shut down the Broadway St. garage's towing operation concludes the state agency's investigation of Ellery on allegations of zoning violations and harassment of neighboring residents living near the garage by Ellery employees.
The DPU suspension of Ellery follows Cambridge City Manager James L. Sullivan's announcement last month that city police would no longer use the garage to perform towing services in Cambridge.
Ellery Garage owner Roger Starr has the option of filing an appeal of the DPU decision with the Massachusetts Judicial Court within the next two weeks. Starr and his attorney, Edward M. Altman, were unavailable for comment yesterday.
Sullivan's decision to terminate Cambridge's official relationship with Ellery came shortly after an Ellery tow truck driver killed Adrian Barnett, 23, of Watertown in a July 27 traffic accident adjacent to the garage's location.
The DPU is also investigating Ellery Garage and Pat's Towing, another Cambridge towing company, for allegedly charging emergency towing fees to local motorists last winter when city police did not report snow emergency conditions to the towing companies.
Francis A. Ritchie, supervising investigator in charge of the second DPU probe, said yesterday that final hearings on the investigation are scheduled for October 14.
City officials said yesterday weather conditions this winter will primarily determine whether Cambridge decides to resume its towing contract with Ellery after the suspension expires December 1.
"We're just going to pray that we won't get a big snowstorm this winter," George Teso, director of Traffic and Parking, said yesterday, adding that city police have only 40 per cent of the normal towing fleet available because of the city's decision to end its contract with Ellery.
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