Gary Rome Hyundai could get a key approval from the city as soon as May 19 to proceed with building a $10 million dealership on Whiting Farms Road after a committee recommended approval Tuesday (May 12).
The City Council Ordinance Committee voted 4-0 to recommend that the full council approve a zone change Rome needs for the project.
The committee also voted 3-1 to recommend against adopting a competing zone change filed by residents who had eyed the same nearly-19-acre property on Whiting Farms Road as Rome but for a residential use.
Also, the committee voted 5-0 to recommend the full City Council grant a zone change to James P. Lavelle Jr. to allow for auto sales at the family-run JP's Restaurant & Sports Bar at 200 Whiting Farms Road.
The Ordinance Committee in voting the recommendations at City Hall agreed with recommendations the Planning Board had made regarding the Rome, residents' and Lavelle zone change petitions. The City Council will consider the Ordinance Committee recommendations May 19.
Rome needs a zone change to Business Highway from the current Business General, which prohibits an auto dealership.
Most people who spoke at a public hearing March 31 favored the zone change for Rome.
Rome has a deal to buy the property from the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HGE) for $2,050,000 contingent on getting the zone change.
Residents, including former councilor Helen F. Norris, Gayle Keith and Terri Laramee, sought a zoning designation for the property they said would be more compatible for the neighborhood than an auto dealer called RM-20. That stands for Multi-Family Residence at 20 units per acre. The uses are generally housing with limited commercial uses like bed and breakfast, funeral home, hospital and nursing home.
Lavelle also needs a zone change for 200 Whiting Farms Road to Business Highway from the current Business General to allow him to sell used cars. He said he would sell a maximum of four used vehicles at a time.