Petitions aim to curb parking, size of proposed Rockport Village hotel

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 6:15pm

Two petitions are being circulated in Rockport which seek residents and registered voters to support reducing the allowable amount of rooms per downtown hotel to 20, and requiring that off-street parking for businesses in Rockport Village be located in the same lot as the principal building.

In recent months a proposed 35-room hotel to be built on a vacant lot at 20 Central Street has been the topic of many planning board meetings, as owners Stuart and Tyler Smith and engineer Will Gartley have shared plans for the four-story structure, which would locate parking both behind the hotel along Sandy’s Way as well as valet vehicles off-site to a property on Commercial St., both of which are also owned by the Smiths.

The petitions, drafted by resident Clare Tully, come on the heels of the approval by Rockport’s Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the hoteliers to park up to 45 vehicles at the Commercial St. lot, which is located next to Main Street Meats and Guinea Ridge Farm. The goal of the petitions is to garner enough signatures by residents and registered voters that the two measures would be put to a secret ballot vote in spring or summer of this year.

Additionally, an online petition titled “Reduce Size of Smith Hotel in Rockport Village,” was started by Tully on the website change.org, seeking up to 100 electronic signatures from Maine residents and stakeholders who want to “show symbolic support of this effort.” The online petition was initiated   and as of Feb. 27 has garnered 44 signatures.

Earlier this week, a revised plan for the 20 Central St. hotel, submitted by Gartley & Dorsky Engineers, was posted on the Town of Rockport website, in the advent of a Feb. 27 Planning Board meeting. The plans calls for reducing the number of rooms in the hotel from 35 to 26, although the overall height and volume of the building would stay the same:

“This resulted in the elimination of an entire floor resulting in four floors above Central Street and six floors from the parking level or harbor side. The building height and volume are still the same as originally proposed. The elimination of one floor allows for taller ceiling heights and more space for floor structure, mechanical and plumbing. The attached elevations are revised to show the elimination of one floor and the addition of architectural details such as granite lintels and sills at the windows,” wrote Gartley.

A lease for the off-site parking at 310 Commercial St., which involve Hoboken House LLC (the property where the 45 spaces would be located) and 20 Central Street LLC (the hotel and lessee) was also included. The as proposed would commence Jan. 1, 2020 and terminate Dec. 31, 2025. 20 Central LLC would pay $4,500 to Hoboken House LLC each year.

“The 45 spaces will be used for valet service which was approved by the Board of Appeals. The Planning Board required the applicant to identify additional parking spaces other than those on Sandy’s way to meet the parking requirements for the hotel and the restaurants. So you are correct parking will be provided at both locations,” said Town Planner Bill Najpaeur Feb. 26 when asked if the off-site parking would still be needed with the proposed reduction of guest rooms.

Town Manager Bill Post said that he would need to review the petitions with the town’s legal counsel to determine many signatures would be required and/or if the petitions were worded appropriately to be put to a public vote. Once the petitions have been circulated, they will be presented to the Rockport Select Board.

The full text of the petitions is as follows:

1) TOWN OF ROCKPORT PETITION FOR TOWN MEETING VOTE - LIMITING NUMBER OF ROOMS IN HOTELS IN ROCKPORT 

30-A M.R.S.A. § 2522 
This petition must be signed by ___ registered voters of the Town of Rockport. 

To the Municipal Officers of the Town of Rockport, Maine:

We, the undersigned residents of the Town of Rockport, Maine, qualified to vote in all town affairs, hereby request that you place the following article before the voters for the consideration at a secret ballot election held pursuant to 30-A M.R.S. § 2528:

“Shall the following amendment to the Town of Rockport Land Use Ordinance, Section 917(G) be enacted:

9. No more than 40 (forty) rooms, in the aggregate, shall be permitted at Inns/Hotels in the 913 zoning district.  No single inn or hotel, nor any combination of such uses located on the same lot, shall have more than 20 guest rooms.

 Notwithstanding 1 M.R.S. § 302, this amendment shall apply to all hotels and inns that have not received Planning Board approval and all required building permits as of March 1, 2020.” 

2) TOWN OF ROCKPORT PETITION FOR TOWN MEETING VOTE - OFF-STREET/REMOTE PARKING REVIEW IN ROCKPORT 

30-A M.R.S.A. § 2528(5)
This petition must be signed by ___ registered voters of the Town of Rockport.

To the Municipal Officers of the Town of Rockport, Maine:

We, the undersigned residents of the Town of Rockport, Maine, qualified to vote in all town affairs, hereby request that you place the following article before the voters for the consideration at a secret ballot election held pursuant to 30-A M.R.S. § 2528: 

“Shall the following amendment to the Town of Rockport Land Use Ordinance, Section 803.1(3) be enacted: 

Location of Off-Street Parking: Required off-street parking in all districts shall be located on the same lot as the principal building or use, except that where off- street parking cannot be provided on the same lot, the Planning Board Board of Appeals may permit such off-street parking to be located a reasonable distance from the principal building or use, measured along the line of public access. If serving a business or industrial use, such parking area shall be in a business or industrial district. Such parking areas shall be held under the same ownership or lease. The Planning Board Board of Appeals may approve the joint use of a parking facility by 2 or more principal buildings or uses where it is clearly demonstrated that the parking facility will substantially meet the intent of the requirements by reasons of variation in the time of use by patrons or employees among such establishments. No off-site or shared parking, or waiver of parking requirements, shall be approved unless it is supported by an independent traffic study prepared by a qualified professional, hired by the reviewing authority and paid for by the applicant, which establishes that the parking facility is adequate for the proposed use and any shared use(s), will not cause undue burdens on traffic or parking in the vicinity, and will not cause safety concerns.

Notwithstanding 1 M.R.S. § 302, this amendment shall apply to all land uses and all off-site parking facilities that have not received final approval as of 45 days prior to enactment of this amendment.”

The online petition can be viewed at: https://www.change.org/p/rockport-maine-residents-petition-to-reduce-size-of-proposed-smith-hotel?recruiter=1044526080&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&recruited_by_id=49fc4e10-5583-11ea-9a9a-ef5f2953baa3