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Second restaurant approved for new Salem plaza

SALEM – The Salem Planning Board has given its okay for a revised site plan allowing two restaurants, instead of one, to operate at a new retail plaza on Main Street near the Methuen town line.

Last year, the board approved the site plan for a three building plaza at 389 Main St. that includes a bank, a CVS pharmacy, and a third building.

The third building was originally approved for one restaurant, a frozen yogurt shop, and the rest was approved for retail use.

The remaining retail space was going to be used for a convenience store, but that store will be smaller than initially planned, said Mark Gross of MHF Design.

“So now the plan is for the yogurt shop, which is currently open and operating with 32 seats, a Subway (restaurant) which will have 16 seats, and the remaining space will be the convenience store,” said Gross, representing Thur Ken, plaza developer.

Gross said a traffic study was completed that showed no major changes in the amount of traffic the second restaurant would create at the plaza.

“The other issue that came up with the change of use, especially with two restaurants, is the requirement for parking,” said Gross.

Combined, the two restaurants will have 50 seats. If a single restaurant had 50 seats, only 25 parking spaces would be required, Gross said.

However, a single restaurant requires a minimum of 25 spaces, meaning the Subway and the frozen yogurt shop would require 50 total parking spaces under the zoning ordinance.

The planning board granted a conditional use permit for the total number of parking spaces at the plaza, letting the developer move forward with 119 parking spaces where 135 is required by zoning.

Planning board member Paul Pelletier said he believes there is ample parking for all the businesses either already opening or proposed for the plaza.

Board member Linda Harvey noted that the 50 seats for the two restaurants count indoor seats and not people who may choose to eat outside during good weather.

Salem Planning Director Ross Moldoff said the possibility of additional outside seating could be handled through the conditional use permit.

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