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June 17. 2014 7:56PM

Owner will look for new space for Vietnamese market after ruling in Manchester

MANCHESTER — The owner of a Vietnamese specialty grocery said he will start looking for another space for the Saigon Asian Market, after city regulators last week again rejected his efforts to move into space on Hanover Street.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment turned down plans to locate the market, which had operated on South Maple Street for 12 years, to the unemployment office at 300 Hanover St.

The state Department of Employment Security hopes to move from the location, and Thanh Ho, owner of Saigon Asian Market, had put in the winning bid for the property.

Ho called the zoning board decision unfair, but he said it will take too long to fight in court. His South Maple Street location closed nine months ago, and his customers need a Vietnamese market in Manchester, he said.

“At this time, we’re looking at other property,” he said. He said he wants space in the center city, so many of his customers would be able to walk to. And he wants 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.

“People want to walk there and spend their money in the city. They don’t want to travel to Boston to spend their money,” Ho said.

Earlier this spring, the Zoning Board had rejected a special exception for the property. On Thursday, the board reheard the matter at the request of Ho.

Thursday’s vote was 4-1 against the project.

“With all the box stores that are empty in the city, he can find a better location for a store that size instead of the middle of a neighborhood,” said Zoning Board Chairman William Bevelaqua. He said the board was also concerned about the dumpster and delivery hours.



Racist intent disavowed

During the meeting, Bevelaqua and another Zoning Board member disavowed any racist intent on their part, and said they were insulted by earlier accusations.

Leaders of both the Vietnamese and Brazilian communities spoke in favor of allowing the market on Hanover Street. Lawyers for two longtime Hanover Street residents spoke against the project. Both worried about the size and the traffic it will generate.

Ho’s attorney, Dan Muller, said the spot has a history of retail. Treisman’s, a retail and catalog store, operated out of the building until the late 1980s.

Muller presented a traffic study that said the traffic would be comparable to that of the unemployment office. And he said deliveries would be limited to business hours.

Ho said his bid for the space was contingent on city approvals.

mhayward@unionleader.com



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