Hadley planners vote down sign for Hampshire Mall tenant

Staff Writer
Published: 8/17/2022 2:21:33 PM

HADLEY — A new entertainment venue inside the Hampshire Mall, expected to open next month, should not be allowed to have a sign attached to the building’s exterior, according to town planners.

The Planning Board on Tuesday voted 4-0, with member Mark Dunn absent, to instruct the Zoning Board of Appeals to reject a variance request from mall owner Pyramid Management Group for putting up the sign for Fun Hub Action Park.

“Legally, there’s no reason to grant a variance,” said board member Joseph Zgrodnik, adding that the business is not facing a legal hardship, and that installation of such a sign would be nonconforming based on town zoning rules.

Mall General Manager Lynn Gray said the variance is being sought so that a Fun Hub sign would go near one already in place for Pinz, a restaurant and bowling alley inside the mall. That sign, reading “Pinz: Eat, drink, bowl, play” faces toward South Maple Street, similar to a nearby sign for Cinemark movie theaters.

Like Pinz, Gray said Fun Hub doesn’t have direct exterior access, and it’s a matter of fairness for a large format operator, using 33,000 square feet in the building, to get a sign. The trampoline park will be using space most recently occupied by the Autobahn, and before that Media Play.

Planning Board Clerk William Dwyer said he sees no hardships related to municipal zoning, only to mall operations, and suggested the Zoning Board turn down the request. The proposal is also for a sign that is much larger than signs allowed in multi-tenant buildings where each business has its own exterior entrance, Dwyer said. Board member Michael Sarysinski said the mall should instead swap out existing signs that face Route 9.

Still, the Zoning Board could vote in favor of the variance, as it did when it approved the Pinz sign over the objections of the Planning Board several years ago. In that case, Planning Board Chairman James Maksimoski said that the board also made a mistake in allowing an internally illuminated sign.

Zgrodnik said he would prefer to see the mall provide Fun Hub its own direct entrance, rather than seeking something that is not allowed by town zoning. Gray, though, said the location of Fun Hub, inside the mall between the PetSmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods store, makes that impossible.

“There’s no way for us to get them an entrance,” Gray said. “The back side of their facility dumps out into a loading dock.”

In other business, planners began reviewing plans for a 41,700-square-foot, three-story office building that would replace the Howard Johnson Motel at 401 Russell St. The plans show a building close to Route 9 that will be similar in size and scale to office and medical buildings on Atwood Drive in Northampton. The hearing will continue on Oct. 4, with planners informing Hampshire Hospitality Group President J. Curtis Shumway that it has no issues with the proposal.

The board also approved a new sign for Lyndon Tree Care at 245 Russell St. and began discussions with Jim Boyle, whose family owns Kitchen Concepts at 117 Russell St., about operating a small car dealership on the same site.


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