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Land Owners Ask Hanover to Allow Parking Lot Downtown

Hanover — A pending decision by the town zoning board could spell minor relief for motorists attempting to park downtown.

Property owners Steve and Ray Buskey are seeking the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s approval to turn 9 Allen St., an empty lot that was once the home of College Cleaners, into a gated 16-space parking lot.

While Ray Buskey said he expects to lease spaces in the new lot to tenants of his neighboring buildings at 5 and 7 Allen St., he said he wouldn’t rule out leasing the 5,000-square-foot lot to the town in the future.

“Months will go by, and we’ll see what we’re really going to do,” he said.

Town Manager Julia Griffin said the town had been interested in developing the site for public parking, but the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement before the 2014-15 budget was finalized.

Buskey said it would be easier to enforce parking restrictions at the lot if the town was responsible for it.

Private lot owners in town have difficulty combatting parking space poachers, Buskey said.

When Buskey bought the former cleaners last year, parts of the building that sat about a block west of Main Street were “literally” falling down, he said.

“It wasn’t a steal, put it that way,” he said.

The Buskeys decided to raze the old building, which the state Department of Environmental Services required them to test for environmental contaminants that dry cleaners often leave behind. While state officials identified a few areas of interest on the site, they haven’t pursued them further, which indicates that “it’s not a big concern at this time for them,” Buskey said.

“If it was, they’d be insisting on some other action, I imagine,” he said.

Officials at the Department of Environmental Services could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Griffin said the extra spaces would still help to alleviate the parking crunch in the central business district.

“It pulls cars out of our public parking lots,” she said. “Any addition of parking in downtown, whether privately or publicly owned, is good for downtown.”

If the town were to take over the facility, Griffin said, her inclination would be to turn it into an hourly space with a central meter, similar to the setup on the Hanover Green across the street from the Hopkins Center.

The town already owns a long-term lot on the corner of School and Allen streets next door to the Buskeys’ parcel. The lot charges $82.50 a month for each of its 16 spaces.

Frank Pizzuti, who owns Michaels Radio & TV down the street, said the Buskey property had never been a viable business location and doubted that a parking lot there would hurt his own business, or any other in the area, for that matter.

“A parking lot may very well be the best use of that spot,” he said.

Like Griffin, Hanover Police Lt. Patrick O’Neill, who supervises the town’s parking facilities, said that the new lot would free up spaces regardless of whether it were public or private.

“We should welcome with open arms the opportunity to add spaces in the central business district,” he said. “And 16 spaces will go a long way.”

The zoning board will hold a public hearing at the town hall at 7 p.m. Thursday and typically has its deliberative sessions a week afterward.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.