Legal wheels keep turning on Hampton Inn

MANCHESTER - The Mullaney Hospitality group, which is seeking to construct a 98-room Hampton Inn lodging and retail complex on High Ridge Plaza, has filed a motion to dismiss an earlier appeal filed by Steve Bauer, owner of the Inn at Willow Pond.

Bauer is seeking to overturn a permit granted by the town's Development Review Board allowing the Mullaney Group to proceed with their planned development.

"The court should dismiss this appeal because the appellant has not shown and cannot show that (1) Appellant 'participated in the proceedings at the DRB,'" the motion filed by the Mullaney group states. "(2) that Appellant "owns or occupies" property in the 'immediate neighborhood" of the Project; or (3) that the project, if approved, would have a physical or environmental impact on his interest that is related to the criterion under which the Court will review the Project."

In the document the Mullaney Hospitality Group argues the appeal should be dismissed because the appellant failed to participate in municipal proceedings and did not meet the definition of "interested persons" in relation to the project.

An affidavit in support of the motion to dismiss was filed by Allison Hopkins, the town's director of zoning and planning.

Hopkins' motion to dismiss states that Bauer was not at a meeting held April 30 during which the Hampton Inn proposal was discussed by the DRB, She stated he was at the May 14 meeting. However, according to the minutes of the meeting, he did not participate. In an interview, Hopkins said because Bauer repeatedly did not state his name when commenting, even when asked, his comments were not taken as part of the record.

"The appellant filed no written material with the DRB and made no oral statement of his concerns regarding the Project at the DRB hearing other than generalized economic concerns," the motion states.

The second point of the motion to dismiss deals with the Mullaney Hospitality Group's assertion that Bauer is not an interested person. To meet that definition, set by Vermont State Statutes, the appellant must own or occupy property in the immediate neighborhood. The motion to dismiss states the Inn at Willow Pond is at least three miles away. Along with the location, the dismissal states the Inn at Willow Pond is owned by two trusts.

"The Appellants Parents are the Trustees and he [Bauer] is a beneficiary," the motion states. "Upon information and belief, the Appellant does not own any real property in the town."

In an interview, Bauer said he will be filing his own motion to dismiss the motion to dismiss the appeal. He asserts all the claims in the motion to dismiss are "lies."

"I know I was at those meetings, I spoke at those meetings," he said.

Bauer alleges that sign-in sheets have been lost, along with tapes of the meetings, filmed by GNAT-TV. Hopkins said she has the sign-in sheets and no one else had any issue finding them and signing in. A call to GNAT-TV confirmed the recordings for the April 30 and May 14 meetings both exist and can be viewed through online on their video-on-demand feature at

He also said he in fact stated his name for the record and it should be reflected in the minutes of the meetings. When looking through the minutes, Bauer's name is not mentioned at all.

"It's a little weird that those minutes disappeared," he said. "Another sign-in sheet has gone missing before." In the statement of questions, Bauer mentioned the impact on his business due to the project blocking his views and his customers views of Mount Equinox and Mount Myrick.

"Application should include ... sight lines and elevations to the ridgelines which is necessary to evaluate the impact of the new large buildings blocking ... views of the Equinox Mountain and Mother Myrick Mountain ridgelines, which impacts the Appellant as an individual and as a tourism based business owner dependent on scenic streetscapes," the statement of questions reads.

Bauer said he believes the Mullaney Hospitality group has misconstrued this explanation to mean that he filed his appeal for anti-competition reasons. The motion to dismiss states that the appeal seems to be solely for economic reasons "Irrelevant to any of the considerations by the DRB."

The appeal was filed, Bauer said, because there were inconsistencies between the permit, the town plan and zoning bylaws.

At this time, the Mullaney Hospitality Group declined to comment on the appeal or any other aspect of the case for the time being.

The latest motion to dismiss follows the issuing of a local permit on June 4 to develop a parcel of commercial property on Main Street adjacent to the mini-roundabout a short distance from Ways Lane. Several commercial buildings, including those formerly occupied by the Panda Garden Chinese restaurant, the Bose retail store and another by Reebok, along with several others in the former complex originally constructed in the late 1990s, would be demolished and a new hotel and retail space constructed.


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