Rockport Planning Board affirms approval of hotel – Knox County VillageSoup

ROCKPORT — The next step in the long fight over the construction of a hotel in Rockport Village has been taken as the Planning Board approved its findings of fact and affirmed its approval of the site plan during a meeting Feb. 3.

“Based on the above findings of fact and conclusions of law outlined… the Town of Rockport Planning Board by a vote of 4-0 approves and adopts these written Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on remand from the Knox County Superior Court and affirms the approval of the Site Plan Application from 20 Central, LLC, subject to the previous findings and conditions included in the Board’s March 21, 2020, Notice of Decision…” the findings of fact document concludes. The board took the 4-0 vote in the meeting, matching the document.

Much of the meeting was spent going over minor typographical changes to the findings of fact document.

The findings included the history of the case.

The Planning Board first approved the 26-room hotel and restaurant Feb. 27, 2020, for developers Stuart, Tyler and Marianne Smith doing business as 20 Central Street, LLC.

This was appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which denied the appeal Jan. 22, 2021, according to a draft of the findings of fact.

The appellants are, according to the draft: John Priestly, David Barry, David Kantor, Mark Schwartzmann and Winston Whitney.

The case went to Superior Court March 5, 2021. On Dec. 1, the court issued its first order, remanding back to the Planning Board issues of parking and whether the hotel fits in architecturally with its neighbors.

The court has also found the hotel must adhere to the new ordinance limiting hotels to 20 rooms in town even though it was enacted after the approval of the 26-room hotel.

In January, the Planning Board held a site walk and a meeting to consider these matters and the Feb. 3 meeting was to finalize its decision.

The board found that the hotel building, while not exactly like its neighbors in the village meets the standard of being visually harmonious. The building includes similar features to neighboring structures including “granite foundations, historic red brick, pink mortar, dormers, decks, balconies, paneled front veneer, slate mansard roofs, divided pane windows…”

The balconies, which the appellants took issue with are thin and spindly, blending into the brickwork, the board found.

The Planning Board has also looked extensively at whether the hotel project meets the town’s parking requirements including lengthy discussions about the Sandy’s Way parking area behind the hotel and offsite parking at 310 Commercial Street (Hoboken Lot).

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