Continued hotel review postponed until February

Rockport Planning Board approves new childcare business; review of village hotel continued until February

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 3:00pm

    The Rockport Planning Board voted Jan. 23 to continue its review of a proposed 35-room hotel at 20 Central Street next month rather than at the Thursday night meeting as originally scheduled. Board members said they were awaiting findings made Jan. 22 by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which granted off-site parking to the hotel project, and would need to review language pertaining to the new lease agreement for the remote parking before proceeding with further review.

    The board considered three other proposals, including a five-unit apartment complex and the extension of a telecommunications tower.

    Permission was granted to Maegan Foley to operate a daycare facility from her Mt. Pleasant St. home, which would accommodate on average eight children at a time.

    Postponement of hotel review

    On Wednesday night, Jan. 22,  the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to allow the developers of the proposed Rockport Harbor Hotel to provide off-site valet parking spaces for at least 34 vehicles at 310 Commercial St., behind the Guinea Ridge Farm nursery.  

    “The area is existing gravel and will not require changes or improvements,” said Will Gartley, a consultant on the project. “This area is not currently used or included in the lease to the greenhouse operators....The leased parking is located at 310 Commercial Street, which is approximately 0.7 miles from 20 Central Street. The leased parking will be for valet only and is approximately a two-minute drive.”

    Both the Central St. property and 310 Commercial are owned by the Smiths, who would lease the parking spaces from one LLC to another. The Zoning Board made a condition of their approval of the parking arrangement the fact that the lease would be in effect for as long as the hotel is in business.

    “The [parking plan] was approved at the meeting, but we haven’t had time to put the findings together and the motion and get the final lease – there were some modifications to the lease based on a condition set by the Zoning Board,” said Town Planner Bill Najpaeur, at the Jan. 23 planning board meeting. He said those materials should be ready for review by the board at a February meeting.

    “I would like to propose to the board that we issue a continuance on [the hotel application] because I don’t believe we can move forward without that ruling from the ZBA, we can’t approve this approval cycle,” said Chairman Joe Sternowski. He said that the board should review the meeting minutes from the past few months pertaining to the 20 Central St. hotel project to ensure their accuracy moving forward.

    “What I’m more concerned about out is what we actually... did we give tentative approvals? Where did we give those? Those should be recorded in the minutes, right?” asked board member Tom Laurent.

    “Don’t take this as absolute truth, but I do believe that my review of [past meeting] videos, that we did not make any finding of fact on any of the sections. I believe that we did review many of the sections in the Land Use Ordinance for compliance, but I don’t believe we voted on any of those,” said Sternowski.

    Daycare center, West Rockport

    The board approved a site plan review application by Maegan Foley operate a daycare facility at 34 Mt. Pleasant Street. Foley stated that she is in a purchase agreement with intent to buy the property from its current owners, David and Christine MacWilliams. She said the daycare would operate from within the home on the 2.2 acre lot, as well as on an outdoor playground.

    Foley intends to have the facility licensed to accommodate up to 12 children, with eight children in attendance on a typical day. The business, tentatively named “Monkey Doo Daycare,” would be on the lower level of the house with a back entrance and operate from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  She said the driveway can accommodate up to six cars at a time.

    Single-family rental units, Glen Cove

    In his application to the board, Max MacCoole said that he and his family acquired the property at 1047 Commercial Street and its existing buildings in 2018 with the intention of constructing apartment units which could be rented by the public. Since then the existing buildings on the site have been removed, and MacCoole has begun construction on one of two multi-unit structures, which runs parallel to Commercial Street (Route 1).

    MacCoole appeared before the board seeking approval construct a second building which will run perpendicular to Route 1 and provide three units. The total of five combined rental units requires subdivision approval under the town’s Land Use Ordinance. The new residences are located opposite existing businesses such as the Claddagh Motel.

    “We’ve had successes recently as responsible landlords in Rockport and we’re simply trying to expand that and offer even more modern, reasonable, efficient rental units,” said MacCoole, who with his family operate an apartment building at 3 Camden Street.

    Sternowski requested a floorplan of the division walls of the proposed units, and Lou Laquaglia asked for specifics regarding roof pitch and materials being used. MacCoole will go before the board again in March for further review of the project.

    Cellphone tower extension

    Lincoln Erhard, of Northern Pride Communications, Inc., has proposed extending a telecommunications tower from 100 to 110 feet in height. The tower is located at 18 Rockport Park Center on a property owned by Charles and Joan Foote. The project is expected to cost $52,000 and involves installing a new safety ladder on the additional 10 feet of the tower, as well as reattaching a lightning rod and applying a foundation coating.

    The application filed by Erhard initially said that the extension would be 12 feet, but in light of it being instead 10 feet, he was informed by Najpaeur that the extension would be permitted without any action from the board. Under the town’s current Land Use Ordinance, an extension of up to 10 percent (in this case 10 feet) of an existing telecommunication tower can be completed without Planning Board approval.

    The Rockport Planning Board will reconvene Thursday, Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House.