January 20. 2014 8:57PM

Plaza store size restrictions are lifted

Union Leader Correspondent

SALEM — Satisfied with the results of an independent parking study, the Planning Board has lifted a condition limiting the size of any future business that could occupy the Namco pool supply store at the Stateline Plaza on South Broadway.

Although the Salem Namco store is still open at the plaza, the company itself has gone through bankruptcy proceedings and closed a number of locations across the East Coast.

Looking toward the future, the owners of the plaza requested that the Planning Board lift a condition on the property limiting how much of the 19,000-square-foot building can be used for retail if a new tenant were to occupy the space.

The condition limits a new retail use of the property to 12,000 square feet of the building without additional Planning Board approval.

At issue were traffic and parking concerns, according to town Planning Director Ross Moldoff. At the time, town requirements called for 987 parking spaces on the property, with the developer providing 613.

"The only issue is if there was enough parking on the site," said Moldoff.

The plaza also includes an Aldi grocery store, a Lowe's Home Improvement Eenter, and a Santander bank.

A study by the town's independent traffic consultant, Stephen Pernaw, concluded that the plaza could easily handle any increased need for parking on the property.

The study was done the Saturday after Thanksgiving, generally considered one of the peak retail days of the year.

"The area of concern has a parking supply of 120 spaces," said Pernaw. "That's in front of the Namco business, Aldis, and the bank. After a six-and-a-half hour observation, we came up with a maximum parking demand of only 44 occupied spaces shortly before noon."

That represented less than 40 percent of the available spaces.

"If the Namco tenant were to go away and we saw a retail tenant in there, I don't see any problem with parking deficiencies," said Pernaw.

Although the study focused on the parking close to Namco, Pernaw said there would likely also be plenty of parking spaces available closer to Lowe's.

"It's kind of a belt and suspenders situation," he said. "I don't think you need the spaces in front of Lowe's, but if you did, they are there."