Hadley shop owner losing site to Route 9 work says state check not enough

  • Exotic Auto Repair on the corner of Route 9 and East Street in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Exotic Auto Repair on the corner of Route 9 and East Street in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2021 4:59:34 PM

HADLEY — Since opening Exotic Auto Repair on Route 9 in 2012, owner Paul Narus has had enough success that he hopes to continue running the business for at least another 20 years.

But because the 0.14-acre site and 1,316-square-foot building at 184 Russell St., the northwest corner of East Street and Route 9, is in the way of the state’s Department of Transportation’s plans to widen the highway between the town center and the malls, and to make various intersection improvements, Narus understands that his property has to be taken.

What he didn’t anticipate, though, and what brought him before the Select Board Wednesday, is a concern that the money he will be receiving from the state as compensation is insufficient for him to resume operations elsewhere on Route 9.

“Now they’re saying we’re going to bulldoze your place and get you out of there,” Narus said.

The offer for the property is $270,000, only slightly higher than the $234,000 he paid for it nearly a decade ago. According to records held by the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds, in early January, Walter Lynch, acting director of the DOT’s right of way bureau, filed the taking.

Kristen Pennucci, spokeswoman for MassDOT, wrote in an email that an independent appraisal of any property to be taken is required, as the state adheres to the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 and Chapter 79 of the state’s general laws.

“MassDOT has an extensive dispute resolution process and procedures, including the property owner having three years to bring a claim in court,” Pennucci wrote.

Before coming to the Select Board, Narus reached out to state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton.

“I cannot emphasize enough the catastrophic impacts this will have on my family and personal way of life, not just financially, but also socially, physically and psychologically,” Narus wrote in a letter to the representative. “This is my only livelihood and it has taken me and my family years to establish and eventually reach the current state.”

Town officials told him it’s uncertain what can be done, though Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan said she has spoken to Carey.

Board Chairman David J. Fill II said members support Narus, as well as other property owners affected by the widening project, but based on conversations with state officials it’s uncertain how much influence they have. Narus was advised that hiring an attorney may be sensible as a way to secure a larger payment.

The latest plans for the $25 million project on the 2.4-mile-long stretch of road show three 11-foot vehicle travel lanes — one in each direction and a dedicated turn lane. There will also be an 8-foot-wide multi-use path on both sides, with protection for this with a 6½-foot green buffer and curb.

Exotic is the only business that will have its entire property taken. Other property owners along Route 9 are losing a portion of their properties and some will have to reposition their signs.

Narus, who immigrated to the country 30 years ago from India and opened a second Exotic location on River Drive in North Hadley two years ago, said he wants fair compensation and for it to happen soon before the state begins construction in late 2021 or early 2022.

“I need something to happen before the project starts so I can move on,” Narus said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy