Village Board recesses hearing on Inn project
08/06/2013 04:00:26 PM EDT
MANCHESTER VILLAGE - The Development Review Board of Manchester Village met Monday night to discuss proposed construction to the properties of the former Village Country Inn and the former offices of Dr. Jon Leibling. The item was recessed until Aug. 12, pending supplementary documents.
The properties, encompassing 3835, 3844, and 3869 Main Street, were purchased through an entity known as 3835 Main Street, LLC, in early July.
The parcels at 3835 and 3844 Main Street are a part of the Inn; 3835 is the Inn itself and 3844 lies across the street.
The third parcel, at 3869 Main Street, was purchased by the entityfrom Dr. Jon Liebling, who had his medical practice in the building just north of the Inn.
At left, Clark French describes a proposal he has submitted to construct a new lodging establishment on the property of the former Village Country Inn on Main Street in Manchester Village. French and his investment group are seeking a local zoning permit from Village officials to move forward on the project. (Andrew McKeever Photo)
The presentation of the proposed building was begun by Clark French, partner in 3835 Main Street, LLC. He explained that the demolition of the building went before the Natural Resources Board for Act 250 status recently. However, it was denied; the building is designated as being in the Village Historic District, so it cannot be demolished without plans set in place to construct a new building.
In effect, the village cannot tear it down without Act 250 status, but they cannot achieve Act 250 status without having plans to put something else in the old building's place.
The proposed construction will consist of one 85-room hotel with built-in restaurant, five cottages, a pool and garden area, and parking space across the street.
The building will be longer, at 175 feet as opposed to the former Village Country Inn which stands at 120 feet long, but with the purchase of the adjoining property it will actually take up less frontage space along the street in relation to the entire property.
The board was concerned about the footprint of the building, due to the increased size of the new building. However, because the group purchased adjoining property that belonged to Dr. Leibling, the new building footprint will only take up 16 percent of the land, as opposed to the Inn building using 17 percent.
The village bylaws require that the property have one parking space for each room, and one for every employee at peak scheduling time. With 85 rooms, and no more than 23 employees staffed at any one time - out of 98 total employees - the property will have 108 parking spaces. Thirty will be behind the building and the rest will be across the street on the site of the former tennis courts.
French said that there will be room for buses to drive to the hotel entrance if need be, and since the parking space access behind the building will feature a two-way throughway, there will be room for the busses to enter, drive around back, and exit.
"We will have a no idling policy as well," said French, "so you won't hear these busses sitting in the parking lot idling."
Those involved in the project were mindful of the streetscape, and included features that sheilded the inner workings of the hotel, as well as parking spaces, away from the line-of-sight from the street.
"Guests will be parking behind a scrim of evergreen," said Keith Wagner, landscape architect from Wagner & Hodgson, of the parking lot across the street. "You will have to drive in about 75 feet [up the driveway] to actually see the hotel entrance."
Wagner continued to outline the measures they were taking to keep up the greenspace of the property as well as sheild it from the street and neighbors.
"The rear [by the parking spaces] will be densely planted with a wood privacy fence," he said.
He also explained that they will be filling in empty spaces in the treeline with more trees, as well as hedges, across the street.
"The bylaw says that the greenspace has to be 30 percent," said Clark French. "We have here 42 percent, so we will well exceed the required greenspace."
He mentioned that parking spaces do not count towards the greenspace perecntage.
The building will conform to the federal handicapped accessability standards, they explained. The main hotel entrance will be at ground level, with handicapped parking close by, and with all the walkways to it being at either a slow incline or level with the ground. They mentioned adding a second elevator on the wing of the building to continue to accomodate those who would need it.
Board member Joe Giolito expressed concern over encouraging guests to cross Route 7A in order to get between the hotel and the parking lot, even with the proposed added crosswalk.
"You're going to have  parking spaces across the street... that's a heck of a lot of traffic to go back and forth," he said. "Either cars have to stop suddenly... and there's not sufficient time to slow down sometimes... You only have  spaces in the back of the hotel... so it seems to me that there would be an awful lot of traffic coming in and out of that parking lot."
French explained that since the hotel opened in 1889, "the property across the street has always been where the leisure and event activities took place... so there is a precedence of use that has had traffic going back and forth across."
Ellis Speath said they saw the crosswalk as a benefit to the area.
"This is, almost from the book, how a crosswalk should be," he said. "This is a positive impact on the safety of Route 7A, not a negative."
After the board finished asking their questions to the applicants, residents and interested parties were given the chance to speak and ask questions.
Former owner of the Village Country Inn, Lizanne Deegan, expressed her gratitude to the purchasers.
"I'm delighted, I don't know about you," she said. "We've had a very sad return for something that was once so heart-filled... It was everything that we had inside of us, and I did not know how anyone could come and do anything like what these people have done. I didn't think it was possible."
"I'm thrilled with what I see," said resident Joe Miles, "as opposed to what has been proposed on this property in the past."
Resident and former Planning Commission member Brian Lewis spoke to "commend the applicants and what they're proposing to do," as well as to urge the DRB to think about all the consequences of their decision.
"Whatever decisions you make will have intended consequences, and unintended consequences," he said. "I would like you to think more of the unintended consequences, since if this application is not approved, what next?"
"I just think it's wonderful that local people have such an interest in this project," said Manchester resident Susan Heckman, "and they're doing it locally, that we're not having someone from the outside coming in that doesn't understand the place."
If they receive approval from the DRB, their next step will be to apply for a state Act 250 permit in the early fall. The group must also complete all their architectural and landscaping drawings by the early spring. At that point, ground can be broken on the structure.
"We are operating on a 12 to 14 month construction schedule," French said, "so we would hope to be open for the summer season in 2015."