Hadley planners say parking key to Esselon-garage site approval

  • Esselon Cafe in Hadley. CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/23/2020 12:12:12 AM

HADLEY — Before the Planning Board will approve site plans for two Route 9 commercial buildings, including Esselon cafe and the former Hadley Auto Service, the property owner will have to demonstrate that all vehicles are able to park on the property rather than on West Street along the town common.

“That’s an absolute, non-negotiable item,” Board Chairman James Maksimoski said during Tuesday’s hearing on the site plans.

Although the layout for the buildings, presented by Jeff Squire of Berkshire Design Group, show sufficient parking for the cafe, as well as Steve Lewis Subaru and other businesses using the old garage, planners are not convinced that the plans will bring the property into compliance with town zoning for the first time in 15 years.

“I have not seen anything done to get the parking off of West Street,” Maksimoski said.

The board provided a list of that will have to be done before Squire returns Feb. 18, including providing renderings of the building, roof contours and more greenspace, particularly at the front of the buildings as they face Route 9.

The plans show 10 spaces dedicated for Steve Lewis, four for a second company, eight reserved for a third company and Esselon, and 30 shared by customers.

“If you can show progress on getting people off West Street by then that would be a huge way toward moving everything forward correctly,” Maksimoski said.

Board member Michael Sarsynski suggested that Esselon get tough by calling for tows of vehicles parked on the common.

Another issue is whether the appearance of the buildings will be provided.

“At some point you’re going to have to show us a rendering of what it’s going to look like,” Joseph Zgrodnik said.

“Right now it’s not the most attractive building,” Maskimoski said of the Hadley Garage building, adding that another building at the rear of the property is a “junk pile.”

Because of the concerns of drainage to other properties, and potentially adding an impervious surface, Maksimoski said it’s possible a condition will be set that the parking lot remain gravel.

Squire said it is impossible to have a place for drainage to tie into.

During the meeting, former Planning Board member John Mieczkowski Sr. expressed concern that planners approving the project would create a “cluster mess” by allowing more water to run off from the property.

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