By G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – A liquor license for a Buffalo Wild Wings on Memorial Drive as well as another step in converting the former Chapin School into an apartment complex for veterans received a thumbs up from the Zoning Committee of the City Council on Feb. 11.
The full council will vote the recommendations on Feb. 18.
Attorney Michael Labrie, representing Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee Martti Matheson of South Burlington, Vt., asked the committee to approve a special permit for the “purpose of establishing and operating a full service restaurant including an a full alcoholic liquor license.”
The proposed restaurant would be located at the Chicopee Crossing development on Memorial Drive near the entrance of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Labrie told the councilors that Matheson owns five other Buffalo Wild Wings locations and has never add any alcohol-related violations at any of them. Currently there is a lease pending upon approval of the alcohol license, he added.
If approved by the City Council and the License Commission, the restaurant would start construction later this year and would generation more than 100 hourly employees with a general manager and four assistant managers, Labrie said.
The committee approved the request unanimously.
John Furman, the managing director of the Springfield office of VHB, presented a plan for the parking and green space at the former Chapin School. Solider On, the veterans’ housing program in Leeds, has proposed renovating the building into 42 single room occupancy rental units for homeless veterans.
The organization announced Feb. 10 it had received a $500,000 direct subsidy from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston for the project, named the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village.
Furman, representing the O’Connell Development Group, which has become partners with Solider On in this project, explained that waivers needed to be granted for the amount of green space and the number of parking spaces at the development.
Some councilors questioned if the overall space was adequate for the project. Councilor Frank Laflamme asked about where snow would be piled in the parking lot without eliminating needed parking. Furman said the snow would be trucked away if necessary.
Councilor James Tillotson said, “It’s a challenging location.”
There were also concerns about storm water drainage and Furman explained the planned renovations to the property would improve it.
Councilor Shane Brooks said, “This is the most viable application [for the closed school property] we’ve had in the last 12 years.”
The request was also approved unanimously.