Hadley car dealership seeks town approval for overflow lot

Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2017

HADLEY — A local car dealership will have to get formal approval from the town’s Planning Board to continue using an off-site location to store vehicles it can’t fit on its premises.

Steve Lewis Subaru, at 315 Russell St., was supposed to use the parking lot at 272 Russell St. (the former Long Hollow Bison Farm in front of Pulse Cafe) to park about 40 vehicles on a temporary basis.

The company was given approval by the Select Board in December 2016 to park vehicles there until April 15, but has continued to rent and use the site for storage.

On Dec. 6, the Select Board granted Steve Lewis Subaru a new Class 1 license on condition that the dealership comply with town zoning rules by the end of February.

Building Commissioner Timothy Neyhart said Dec. 8 that Joe Clark, the dealership’s general manager, will attend the Dec. 19 Planning Board meeting to schedule a hearing so the existing site plan for the parcel can be adjusted.

“It needs to be modified for a parking lot without a building,” Neyhart said.

There are no state rules or town bylaws that prohibit dealerships from using other sites for storing vehicles.

But Select Board Chairwoman Molly Keegan told Steve Lewis representatives that they shouldn’t have ignored the deadline that was imposed and should have come up with a plan months ago.

Clark said additional inventory was supplied by Subaru to provide funding so that the dealership could acquire the Kicza Lumber lot, adjacent to its primary site, and create a larger dealership. This transaction, though, fell through.

It’s uncertain why the dealership didn’t approach the town for several months, but Clark issued an apology when he came before the Select Board last week.

“We’re at the point now we’re asking you guys forgiveness for what happened,” Clark said.

Clark said no sales are ever made from the secondary location, though customers sometimes have wandered through the lot by mistake.

The additional inventory has allowed Steve Lewis to increase sales and expand staff, and in turn increase donations to the town, including to the Hadley public schools, Clark said.

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