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January 13. 2014 8:07PM

Coke plant proposal returns in Salem

SALEM — The Zoning Board of Adjustment will be rehearing a variance request from the owners of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on South Broadway.

Late last year, the Zoning Board denied the request that would have allowed the sale of used cars on the property.

While the sale of new cars is allowed in the commercial/industrial zone, the property does require a variance for the sale of new cars because it is within 2,000 feet of another used car lot, The Toy Store on South Broadway.

Mark Gross, engineer for property owners Joseph Scott and Dennis Metayer, said the used car sales would have been ancillary to new car sales, but because of town zoning ordinances, a variance was needed for used car sales.

At last week’s Zoning Board meeting, the board agreed to rehear the case after receiving a petition from the owners’ attorney.

Board member Gary Azarian, who was not able to attend the November hearing, said he would like the opportunity for the full board to rule on the variance request. He said a rehearing would also help put to rest any concerns raised by the owners of the property.

“As the chairman, I would like to rehear this and I would like to hear the new evidence the attorney brought forth in this petition,” said Azarian. “I think this is an important parcel for the town, and I think it is a parcel that at some point needs to be redeveloped. I’m not saying that this is the petition to do it, but I think we owe this parcel the right to be reheard and to get any additional information we can to make a decision with the full board.”

Board member Steve Diantgikis said he disagreed with several points in the attorney’s petition, but added that he did not have a problem rehearing the case.

Diantgikis said that the suggestions made in the petition that the variance was denied in part because artistic renderings were not shown and that the proposal did not meet the standards of the town’s master plan were untrue.

“There were five criteria that had to be met (to grant the variance), and in my opinion, they were not met,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the master plan. That said, I would be willing to rehear this petition.”

Azarian said just because the Zoning Board is rehearing the case, it does not mean that any of the members have to feel obliged to change their votes.

Board member Michael Smith said that when the variance request is reheard, board members should address only the issue at hand and not delve into issues such as the master plan.
aswift@newstote.com


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