Holyoke residents debate car dealership on Whiting Farms Road

1 Apr

Find out who’s for and against the project

HOLYOKE, Mass, (WWLP) – Gary Rome is looking to expand his Hyundai dealership and build on the vacant Whiting Farms Road property in Holyoke.

“We’ve kind of outgrown our business at 1000 Main Street and we need to expand. That location is close to the mall it’s close to I-91 and it’s close to Route 5 so it makes sense,’ Rome said.

Holyoke Gas & Electric owns the site, and agreed to sell it to Rome for more than $2,000,000. But he needs the Holyoke Planning Board to approve a zone change. There’s also another obstacle in his way. Residents who live in the Whiting Farms Road area do not want to see this zone change go through.

“Nothing against Mr. Rome he might be a very nice fellow but it’s the family residents…nobody seems to be worried about the value of their homes and what’s going to come down the line,’ said Helen Norris of Holyoke.

Down the line, many residents said at a public hearing Tuesday, they fear a business highway zone would ruin the landscape, create traffic, and pave the way for big box stores. Although businesses owners on Whiting Farms Road say they’re hoping for the zone change, and for approval for Rome’s dealership.

“We need more jobs for the people of Holyoke,’ said Eileen Bresnahan, of Bresnahan Insurance. “It be great to employ people who are unemployed or need a job.’

Rome estimates he’d invest about $10,000,000 into an Eco-friendly dealership. He also said it would create 50 full-time and 25 part-time jobs. The planning board is still making their decision. Gary Rome said he is willing to work with residents to overcome some of their concerns.