Landscaper cleans up rented Route 9 business site in Hadley

Hadley Town Hall.

Hadley Town Hall. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 11-23-2023 10:00 AM

HADLEY — Large piles of debris and other material, including soil, concrete and boulders, have been removed from a landscaping company’s Route 9 property, but the ongoing use of the site by the business may hinge on approval of a drainage plan.

At Tuesday’s continuation of a meeting from two weeks earlier, when the Planning Board ordered the owner of In the Green Gardens at 243 Russell St. to clean up the site or be shut down, planners advised that drainage issues need to be reviewed by the Conservation Commission before planners can render a decision early next year.

Planning Board Chairman James Maksimoski said In the Green Gardens owner Steve Vaiano should hire a company to review drainage on the property. “I would request you at least get a study done,” Maksimoski said.

While the drainage problems may predate Vaiano’s use of the property starting in 2021, town officials want to find out what is going on at the site that was previously used by Hastie Fence. “Whatever Hastie did to the site may have altered it from what is truly its original condition,” said Planning Board Clerk William Dwyer.

Vaiano said he has talked to Berkshire Design Group in Northampton about drainage, but only in relation to installation of bin blocks to store materials on site. He said it doesn’t make financial sense to put bin blocks there because he doesn’t own the property. “Doing that scale of site work on a rented piece of property isn’t exactly in our wheelhouse right now,” Vaiano said.

Vaiano added that he has brought the property into compliance, removing the large piles and creating space to park vehicles, and place other equipment, including roll-off containers, at the rear. “We removed all the soil like we were asked by the Planning Board,” he said.

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“You did what you said you were going to do,” Maksimoski said. “You said in two weeks you would get it cleaned up, and you certainly did. Thank you.”

“I think you’ve made a good faith effort in cleaning the place up,” said Planning Board member Michael Sarsynski.

“It was good to hear all of my neighbor’s concerns and their opinions,” Vaiano said, describing that as putting “a little fire under my tail.” “I like a clean yard,” he said.

Still, Paul Zahradnik, who runs Hadley Park Plaza at 245 Russell St., said water is still flowing from the property into a catch basin on his property and a nearby wetland. “It’s been that way for a long time,” Zahradnik said.

Maskimoski said no engineering review was done when town officials allowed Hastie to set up shop several years ago.

Since then, Zahradnik said his tenants have had to deal with an industrial operation.

“Overall the neighborhood is a quiet neighborhood. We’re concerned about all the noise created from Steve’s operation,” Zahradnik said.

“This is a commercial business district — it’s not an industrial district,” he said. “His equipment keeps getting bigger and louder.”

Lisa Sanderson, who owns the 241 Russell St. property, said much better conditions now exist with dirt and compost removed, and a pledge to stop screening materials. “The dirt grinding from 10 to 4 o’clock all day long, it was really loud, it was shaking the building a little bit,” Sanderson said.

Vaiano said his employees start their days between 6:30 and 7 a.m. and will do no more work on site. “We come in, hop in the trucks and go,” Vaiano said. In addition, only palletized material, such as pavers or retaining wall blocks, will be brought to the site.

In other business, the board approved a series of changes to the previously approved site plans for the new 77-room hotel, a TownePlace Suites by Marriott, going up at 237 Russell St., including widening the driveway access for the Fire Department, adding a grease trap and a 1,000- to 2,000-gallon propane tank, and changing some of the underground utilities and drainage.

The hotel is to be complete and open by the end of 2024, said Kishore Parmar, vice president for Pioneer Valley Hotel Group.

“We are hoping to be done sometime at the end of next year, if everything goes well,” Parmar said.

The board, though, took no action on a request to move two signs on Route 9 to accommodate the continued widening of the state highway. One of the signs that would be moved, which is in compliance with town zoning, is at the former T.J.’s Taylor Rental, 301 Russell St. The other is a sign for the former Rocky’s Ace Hardware, 299 Russell St., which closed at the end of 2016. That sign, now considered abandoned because it hasn’t been used in more than two years, is both larger than allowed by town zoning, and has an LED component with scrolling messages, that is also not permitted in Hadley.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.