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Ashley Furniture owner looks to expand in Salem

SALEM — The owner of the Ashley Furniture store on Kelly Road is looking to open a second furniture store next to the existing business at Kelly Plaza.

Last week, the planning board continued the public hearing on the site plan, opting to hear additional traffic and engineering information on the project before making a final decision.

The site is in Kelly Plaza, located off South Broadway and across Kelly Road from Best Buy.

In 2007, the planning board approved the plans for two buildings on the site, the 38,000-square-foot Ashley Furniture site and an additional 13,000-square-foot general retail space.

"Since then, the same applicant (AAA Realty) decided not to do the general retail and looked at building a second furniture store," said project engineer Nicole Duquette of TF Moran. "Why they are doing this is because the Ashley Furniture store is only allowed to sell Ashley Furniture products. What they want to do with the second building is sell some higher end furniture than the Ashley furniture and possibly sell some mattresses."

Duquette said the owner wants to sell as much American-made furniture as possible in the new location.

As presented, the project will require conditional approval for parking and sign issues.

Under town regulations, the two furniture stores require 125 parking spaces while 111 are proposed.

Town planning director Ross Moldoff said the owner provided a traffic memo that is being reviewed by an outside consultant. However, he said he doesn't think a second furniture store will have a huge impact on parking or traffic.

Moldoff questioned a proposal, however, for two 200-square-foot signs on the building and asked the applicant to reconsider that request.

"Obviously, every merchant would want to get more than our requirement of one 100-square-foot sign," said Moldoff.

Duquette said the owner was requesting the additional signs because the building is not easily visible from South Broadway.

Planning board member Ron Belanger said he still had questions about traffic and would like to hear from the outside consultants before voting on the project.

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