Planet Permits – A health club wants to open in Revere; after that, things get complicated

Planet Fitness wants to locate in the former Stop and Shop location at the Northgate Mall.

It seeks to make a $4.5 million investment in the location and to do what it does best – that is – to offer its health club machines and services at a price far lower than anywhere in the city.

This is what Planet Fitness is known for. Its model is to charge less than everyone in the same business.

However, because there is no ordinance covering health clubs and where they might locate within the city, a building permit would not be issued by the building department if Planet Fitness officials went to city hall to apply for one.

There is an effort underway to ask the city council to bring back to life almost verbatim, the ordinance Mayor Thomas Ambrosino submitted to the council more than one year ago which was rejected. That ordinance would have provided the particulars about where a health club could be located with proper zoning in mind.

It appears the city council would prefer to make the matter one of issuing a special permit.

This according to councilors Dan Rizzo and John Powers, among others, would allow the council to set a standard of excellence which Planet Fitness must agree to in writing before issuing a special permit.

Such an agreement would provide for proper esthetics and architectural improvements that would benefit the city as well as the shopping center’s owners.

All of this, we believe, makes good sense.

There is always an other side to the story well told.

If Planet Fitness is allowed to locate in the former Stop and Shop at Northgate, it will very likely have a dramatic negative impact on Revere’s two other health clubs – East Shore Gym and Bally’s.

More than 50 men and women, nearly all of whom are from Revere and who are members of East Shore Gym appeared at the city council hearing Monday afternoon to ask the council to keep things the way they are.

Caruso said he believes in the free market place. He said he likes to let everyone compete.

He does not believe that the best interests of competition are met when you have to ask a group of politicians to change an ordinance or to allow a special permit to compete.

He may have something there but it does not seem the council will be guided by that belief.

Will Planet Fitness open at Northgate Mall?

It appears the council will make that decision.

If this is the case, then local businessmen like Caruso and the owners of Bally’s need to let the council know where they stand on the issue and to make their best case.

Then it will likely be up to the council – as it probably should be.

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