DANVERS — It was a good thing for Peabody resident Neil Papamechail that selectmen granted temporary permission for certain cab companies to operate in town last night.
Without that permission, Papamechail told selectmen, he wouldn’t be able to get home from the meeting in Town Hall. Papamechail is legally blind and depends on cabs to get around.
“I got a ride here with one of you guys,” Papamechail said. “But, if you don’t make a decision, I will be stranded.”
Acknowledging that the town’s taxicab bylaw may have two fatal flaws in it that kept cab companies from pulling licenses in town and apologizing to those residents who could not get rides, selectmen voted 5-0 to grant companies that apply for a license by Thursday, March 7, temporary permission to operate. Cab companies are also required to show they have a valid license from another community. The permission was effective immediately after the vote.
Public hearings on taxi license applications were scheduled for April 2. Since the bylaw could be changed by Town Meeting in May, licenses granted in April will also be temporary.
So far, Beverly-based ND-A-RYD, Salem Taxi and Peabody’s North Shore Taxi have applied for licenses, officials said last night.
“Now we can operate legally, and they won’t bother us,” said Dennis Soper Jr., the operator of ND-A-RYD, who said his company was not caught in the police compliance check.
The crackdown on cab companies a week ago Tuesday, at the behest of selectmen, led Papamechail to take what he said was “an unexpected six-mile walk” from Costco on Route 1 to his home. He told the board he had his 10-year-old daughter with him at the time.
Papamechail was not the only one left without a ride after several cab companies were fined when officers called for rides from the Liberty Tree Mall, then cited those who showed up. Danvers has not licensed a cab company to operate in town for several years, even with a rewrite of its taxicab bylaw in 2009.