MANCHESTER - The Hampton Inn and Suites project has gotten its local approval from the town's Development Review Board. Now it's on to another review by the state Act 250 commissioners.

The decision was officially received and made part of the public record on June 23. The permit was issued administratively on Tuesday, June 24.

The three story, 98 room hotel and three retail stores project was first presented before the DRB during a meeting on May 23. The development portion of the hearing was closed after the meeting in May, but the design portion of the hearing remained open. Some changes were made to the design of the project and moving forward any changes to the design will require an amendment to the permit.

The project, designed by Kirk Moore of BMA Architects, was met with some reserve when first presented. Some residents of the adjacent Hillvale neighborhood felt the hotel would be seen from their backyards and that a measure of privacy was being lost. A site visit was planned with the residents, to talk about screening with trees and a new fence, which addressed some of the concerns some of the residents felt about the project.

Now that it is approved, Kevin Mullaney, vice-president of the Mullaney Hospitality Group, the developers of the Hampton Inn project, said they are excited to take the next steps in the redevelopment of one of Manchester's significant assets.


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"We look forward to continuing to partner with the residents, businesses and the town to achieve an economic success bringing jobs, tax revenues and community support to the area," he said. "We appreciate the efforts of the town board members who listened and thoughtfully commented on all aspects of the project and the neighbors of Hillvale who spent time meeting with us and providing feedback that we plan to incorporate. We've received such a warm welcome from local residents and businesses, and we look forward to contributing to the future successes of Manchester." In the conclusions of law section of the approved permit some specifics have been laid out for the project. The streetlights in the proposed streetscape will be identical to those installed in conjunction with the roundabout project. Bus idling will not be allowed along the residential property lines and there will be no deliveries or engine idling allowed after 11 p.m. The DRB asked for marble to be incorporated into the project, and it will be in the form of benches and sidewalk inlays.

At the planning commission meeting Monday, the board requested that Allison Hopkins, the town's director of zoning and planing, ask the district environmental commission to either reschedule or keep open the Act 250 hearing on Thursday, June 26. Bill Drunsic, chair of the board, along with the others, want to see a presentation of the plan before they choose to either support or not support the project. Specifically, the board wants to make sure the development fits within the guidelines of the town plan.

In other business, the planning commission supported the issuing of an Act 250 permit for a proposed falconry school and heard a presentation about the Manchester 2020 Riverwalk committee. At their next meeting, on July 23, they will be presenting the Depot Street Corridor grant proposal in conjunction with the Bennington County Regional Commission.

The first stage of the Act 250 process will begin Thursday, June 26, and The Journal will publish an update on that hearing online at manchesterjournal.com.