Municipal process and procedures again questioned

Two more appeals of Rockport hotel construction approval wait for ZBA to convene

Wed, 04/27/2022 - 1:30pm

    ROCKPORT — Construction on the Rockport Harbor Hotel in Rockport Village has resumed, and in the wake, two additional appeals — one of the new building permit, the other of the town planning board’s findings of fact — have been filed at the Rockport Town Office.

    Both were submitted by Rockport citizens who had previously appealed earlier permits and board decisions. They appeared before a Knox County Superior Judge last year to present their objections, and the legal consideration of the dispute lasted until mid-winter, resulting in a three-month hotel construction pause.

    On April 26, the municipal Code Enforcement Officer’s second issuance of a building permit dated April 1 to Rockport Harbor Hotel was appealed by the group Friends of Rockport and resident John Priestley.

    Earlier, on March 7, the same appellants filed an appeal of the Rockport Planning Board’s findings of fact, which had been signed at a meeting held subsequent to a court order that the board review certain review aspects of the hotel plans.

    The Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals was to address the March 7 appeal at an April 14 meeting, but due to lack of quorum, the meeting was postponed.

    That March 7 appeal contended that the Planning Board should not have held a site visit and should not have received or considered new evidence related to scenic view or architectural harmony.

    There are an additional seven points that the appellants are appealing, and they state that the Planning Board, “must revisit its findings on scenic view, which is one of the considerations required by the architectural harmony standards of the land use ordinance.”

    In an April 11 letter to the ZBA, however, Collins wrote that the March 7 appeal must be remanded back the Rockport Planning Board, because the ZBA, “cannot property parse the Planning Board’s findings on remand to separate the former record from the new evidence...”

    In the April 26 appeal, the citizens, who are represented by Attorney Kristin Collins, who is with the firm Preti Flaherty, argued that the CEO erred in issuing a building permit April 1 because the hotel project itself was not in conformance with a May 2020 site plan approval.

    That assertion was made because the number of hotel rooms has decreased from 26 to 20.

    The appeal also said the independent traffic study, as conducted by Gorrill Palmer was not independent, “as Gorrill Paler regularly works with Gartley and Dorsky [project engineers] and the 20 Central Street LLC principals [Stuart, Marianne and Tyler Smith].”

    There are four more points of contention listed in the April 26 appeal, concerning parking, traffic safety and preservation of scenic views.

    As of April 27, no May meetings of the ZBA have been scheduled to appear on the municipal calendar.

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