Orange car dealer gets license renewed

ORANGE — Selectmen have renewed the license for Town Line Motors to sell used cars after a lengthy discussion about an incident involving a disgruntled customer.

Robbie Dodd of Hubbardston told selectmen he filed a small claims case in Gardner District Court when the owners of Town Line Motors didn’t refund his deposit after he decided not to move forward with purchase of a used car for his daughter.

In addition, Dodd claims the owners forged his signature on a purchase and sale agreement.

He said the court ordered Town Line Motors to refund the $200, which he received from the company earlier this fall. He said he is continuing to pursue forgery charges through the District Attorney’s Office.

Dodd told The Recorder after the meeting he appeared at the board meeting to prevent other people from having similar problems dealing with the business.

Resident Richard Sheridan told the selectmen that while the incident was an “unfortunate circumstance,” the board “does not have police powers” and should not make decisions that negatively impact the vitality of a town business based on “accusations that have not been backed up ... You’ve damaged his business already just by bringing this up.”

Sheridan said the incident resulted in a civil case that had been settled in court. As such, it did not fall under the board’s authority and should not be part of the discussion in renewing the license. If a business owner has been convicted of a criminal charge related to business practice, Sheridan contended, “then you take it from there.”

Dodd countered that based on his research, “state … regulation leaves it up to towns who they want to give licenses to. It’s completely in your hands whether he gets a license or not.”

“I don’t know if you know what the words ‘arbitrary’ and ‘capricious’ mean,” Sheridan told board members as they deliberated. He defined capricious as “whimsical” and arbitrary to mean “tyrannical”… every so often the town thinks it’s time to jump on used-car people.”

In an unsigned letter to selectmen, an unnamed representative of Town Line Motors said Dodd’s deposit was withheld after the car was put on hold for six weeks. “We felt that we had every right to keep that deposit … in turn the customer took the proper steps to fight that decision of ours … and that dispute was settled,” the letter read.

The writer further stated, “we were informed today … by voicemail that we needed to answer this complaint tonight … Hardly ample time to prepare an answer to anything (the owner is out of town for the holiday).”

But Town Administrator Diana Schindler said the owner of Town Line Motors did not appear at Monday’s hearing because he did not want to speak on cablevision, asking to meet with selectmen privately instead. She said she spoke with him before the meeting.

She added the owner had been informed about the hearing several days earlier.

“This is a biz practice issue,” Schindler told selectmen. “You are supposed to consider biz practice,” when deciding whether to renew licenses for used car sales.

Selectboard member David Ames told Dodd, “The thing that bothered me most about this … was that you hadn’t received your money back which now you received.”

Ames said that it did not make sense to consider forgery charges in the decision as the board “would then be looking at things that are not finalized and using them as a way to not provide or delay providing a license.”

He added he has not heard about any additional concerns with the business practices of Town Line Motors.

Ames and Reinig approved the license. Selectboard member George Willard recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

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