Appeal asserts Planning Board, ‘made errors of law, abused its discretion’

Citizens appeal Planning Board approval of Rockport Village hotel project

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 12:00pm

ROCKPORT — On June 19, the Town of Rockport received a notice of appeal following the May 21 Planning Board site plan approval for the development of the Rockport Harbor Hotel, at 20 Central Street.

The notice, as submitted by Preti Flaherty Attorney Kristin Collins, asks the Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals to review the Planning Board’s record and approval, stating the Planning Board, “made errors of law, abused its discretion and made findings not supported by substantial evidence in the record.”

By town charter, the ZBA hears appeals of planning board decisions. The ZBA is to base its decision on whether the planning board decision was within the scope of its authority and supported by substantial evidence in the record.

The appeal was filed on behalf of the following residents and property owners: David Barry, Lisa Breheny, Kathie Grealish, David Kantor, Michael Hampton, George and Eliza Haselton, John Priestley, Kimberly and Rex Rehmeyer, Mark Schwarzmann, Craig Sweeny and Winston Whitney.

The ZBA normally convenes the fourth Wednesday of the month; its next meeting, according to that schedule, would be July 22.

The town has not yet received a building permit application for the proposed hotel, according to Scott Bickford, Rockport’s code enforcement officer.

In the letter sent to the ZBA, Collins said the appellants will suffer loss of scenic views of the harbor, light pollution, noise pollution, shortage of public parking, and degradation of property values.

The appeal asserts:

1)  the Planning Board Chairman and Vice Chairman had expressed bias in favor of the hotel application;

2) that a 2009 downtown Rockport parking study should have been excluded from the record, that not enough parking spaces were provided in the plan;

3) that off-street parking, as proposed for the former Hoboken Gardens space at the intersection of Pascal Avenue and Route 1 fails to meet distance, ownership and site plan approval requirements; 

4) the Planning Board erred in applying the town’s architectural review standards to the project; 

5) the Planning Board erred in finding that the proposed hotel would not cause nuisance conditions; and

6) traffic circulation requirements were not met.

This appeal marks the second time the ZBA will address the Central Street hotel project. On Dec. 19, 20 Central LLC asked Rockport’s ZBA to approve an off-site parking plan for the hotel. The nearly four-hour meeting considered a plan presented by Gartley that entailed remote parking for guest vehicles would be established at 310 Commercial Street, a property where Main Street Meats and Guinea Ridge Farm are located, and which is also owned by Smith as Hoboken House LLC. 

The ZBA unanimously approved the offsite parking plan.

Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657