There has been a significant amount of misinformation disseminated by the handful of individuals who are in opposition of the High Ridge project. The "group," as they call themselves who openly bemoan the project, consists of merely six or eight innkeepers by my count. This seems hardly significant, in my opinion, given the total population of business owners and residents in Manchester. However, given that there seems to be an open forum available to anyone who puts pen to paper, inaccurate or not, perhaps it is time to dispel some of the blatant misrepresentations of the facts surrounding the project.
In last week's story in the Manchester Journal, it was noted that Mr. Bauer and Mr. Asciutto claim that that the DRB did not give consideration to "site lines" and they support the statement by quoting a portion of the bylaw. Interesting, merely a small portion of the bylaw was quoted and done so out of context for effect. The bylaw speaks to the protection of ridge lines and scenic view corridors. The High Ridge project is a redevelopment of commercial property in the downtown core. Applying Mr. Bauer and Mr. Asciutto's misrepresentation of the bylaw would mean nothing could be built downtown - exactly where the most intense development should take place, according to the Town Plan.
Mr. Bauer and Mr. Asciutto allege that the traffic analysis did not take into consideration additional new development and existing traffic generators in town; however, it most certainly did.
Mr. Bauer has repeatedly alleged that the permit application did not include a landscaping plan. Akin to his repeated inaccuracies and blatant disregard for the truth, the plan most certainly did. I therefore beg the question. Whether done so out of sheer ignorance or with malicious intent, shouldn't filing an appeal of a permit seem more plausible should it occur after at least glancing at the application that was submitted?
Lastly, Mr. Bauer and Mr. Asciutto allege that the project was rushed through the review process. No fewer than five public hearings were held for the High Ridge project. Because the project is a redevelopment of an existing commercial property, the review under the zoning bylaw is relatively straightforward. The project meets all the requirements, did not require any variances, and is the kind of development encouraged by the zoning ordinance as well as the Town Plan. In fact, the ordinance includes specific incentives for redevelopment of the downtown core to encourage projects like High Ridge.
Contrary to Mr. Bauer and Mr. Asciutto's claims, the addition of a hotel of this caliber to the downtown core will bring new business to most of the shops, restaurants and service businesses in the area. It is simple common sense! This project will afford a significant boost to the downtown area of Manchester and is strongly supported by the vast majority of businesses and private institutions in town.
I therefore suggest this to the handful of innkeepers concerned about declining business due to the High Ridge project; put the significant amount of energy and time being spent objecting to this project to far greater use. It may be a novel idea, but improve your properties and take ownership in what you are truly concerned about - competition. Resting on your laurels will prove to be your demise and not the result of the High Ridge project or any other, for that matter. Consumerism is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen! If there is a decline in your business, the first person you should point your accusatory finger at is looking back at you in the mirror.
Kirk Moore, AIA