Published October 28. 2012 4:00AM
Groton - Swamped during the spring flood of 2010, Mike's Famous Harley-Davidson is preparing for a short ride to drier ground.
The motorcycle, all-terrain and jet ski sales and repair shop has plans to move across the street into the former Tee's Plus building at 1425 Gold Star Highway (Route 184).
Mike's owner Mike Schwartz said he has a sales agreement in place with the owner, ESOP Property of Groton LLC, to purchase the building and is working to complete due diligence before the buy.
"Hopefully this will be our new home in 2013," Schwartz said. "We're pleased. Groton has been encouraging and welcoming in terms of the business relocating."
At 35,000 square feet, the new building is about triple the size of the current location. Schwartz said it will give the business the opportunity to greatly expand.
The Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously granted two variances to allow Mike's to operate the business in the designated Water Resource Protection District. The commission granted the application with conditions the business operate in an environmentally sensitive manner.
The dealership must abide by conditions of an agreement with Groton Utilities that calls for containing any pollutants, ensuring there is no discharge of dirty water into the area and maintaining a closed-loop water system for cleaning vehicles.
Mike's has been located at 1416 Gold Star Highway since 2004, when it replaced the former New London County Motorcycles, which operated in the area for more than 40 years, Schwartz said.
The proposed new location is the site of the former Auto World Enterprises and Aldrello Auto Body.
Schwartz said one of the major reasons for the move was flooding. He said it took two weeks to get back in business after the 2010 flood that damaged equipment, parts and motorcycles.
"It was a severe blow to the business. Our move was precipitated in part by the continued threat of harm to the business," he said. "Nothing has been done to mitigate the situation."
Mike's, doing business as Northern Reach Inc., leases space at its current location.
Schwartz is the founder and original owner of Mike's Famous Harley-Davidson in New Castle, Del., one of the top dealerships in the country that boasts a museum and restaurant.
In 2005, the zoning board in East Lyme approved his application for a 46,000-square-foot Harley-Davidson dealership with a repair station, restaurant and entertainment section to be located at 15 Industrial Park Road in Niantic, the former Tri-Country Distributors.
The plan dies after encountering local opposition.