By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
Alan J. Baldarelli was fit to be tied Wednesday. Perhaps better put, railroad tied.
His response? Call in a backhoe.
Thus began a escalation of an ongoing easement fight between two Hermitage enterprises and their respective owners, Baldarelli’s B&B Properties and Chiccarino’s restaurant, owned by Jerry and Carole Chiccarino.
Baldarelli claims Jerry Chiccarino stirred the pot Wednesday by tossing railroad ties onto an easement preventing access to vital sections of his plaza, which is adjacent to the restaurant. Oxygen deliveries couldn’t be made to Vantage Home Medical Equipment and Services and parents couldn’t drop their children off easily at Sylvan Learning Center, both plaza tenants, Baldarelli said.
“He blocked our easement,’’ shouted Baldarelli while pacing in front of his plaza. “He chose not to let the courts decide. He chose to block our easement.’’
In turn Baldarelli said he responded by bringing in his relative’s backhoe and other family vehicles to block access to Chiccarino’s restaurant from the plaza.
“If he just let it alone and waited for the courts I wouldn’t be here,’’ Baldarelli said of an ongoing legal case.
Jerry Chiccarino declined to comment on the situation. But he did say the restaurant would remain open.
However, posted on the front door of the restaurant was a notice to patrons.
The Baldarelli family is playing “ ‘King of the Hill’ again with our parking lot problem,” the notice said. “Their philosophy is that those who scream and shout the loudest wins!!”
The notice added, “They are threatening to tow our customers vehicles from their parking lot.”
The notice told customers not to park in the Baldarelli lot which fronts the neighboring plaza. The notice said the restaurant has parking in the rear and parking at the neighboring former Rex parking lot also is available.
Summing up the situation, the notice said, “We apologize for this inconvenience but we will not give into their demands.” It ended with a thank-you with the names of “Jerry, Carole and the Chiccarino’s staff.”
The controversy stems fromplans to build a Speedway gas station and convenience store on the Chiccarino property at 559 S. Hermitage Road and the former Rex property at Morefield Road.
Last month B&B Properties sued Jerry and Carole Chiccarino and Speedway to preserve the easement between the B&B and Chiccarino properties in Hermitage after Speedway builds on the site.
While the Rex property has been mostly vacant for some time, Chiccarino’s restaurant remains open and will be into the summer.
B&B owns the plaza to the north of Chiccarino’s and has four tenants.
During the land-development plan approval process in Hermitage, president of Almarle Realty, the general partner of B&B properties, protested Speedway’s plan to build a buffer on the north side of what is now the Chiccarino property.
City commissioners approved the plan after determining it met the city’s land development and subdivision ordinance.
B&B and the Chiccarinos have had a gentlemen’s agreement since 2010 that allows B&B patrons to go onto Chiccarino property to access the rear of the B&B building, and Chiccarino’s customers to park on B&B property.
The agreement was put in writing – but has never been signed.
Both sides made improvements to their properties to accommodate the agreement, including building a retaining wall on both properties; removing another wall, trees and debris; and installing poles to protect B&B’s building from Chiccarino customers parking there.
B&B relocated a tenant, Sylvan Learning Center, to the rear of its building and built a new entrance for Sylvan customers. Vantage Home Medical Equipment and Services also uses the rear of the property for loading and unloading equipment.
Speedway’s plan will “deny customers of (B&B’s) tenants from vehicular access to this area,” the suit said.
“This denial would create a dead-end behind (the) building and an intolerable bottleneck to vehicular traffic, thereby destroying the viability of the rear tenancy,” it said.
The gentlemen’s agreement has been “executed by performance” and the refusal of the Chiccarinos and Speedway to continue the easement in writing “is inequitable and a fraud,” the suit said.
B&B “cannot be readily compensated in money damages,” the suit said, and asks that a judge order the defendants to maintain the gentlemen’s agreement after Speedway buys the property.
On Wednesday Baldarelli said his attorneys have had ongoing talks with Speedway and was hopeful of reaching an agreement.