Planners note concerns over Hampton inn

MANCHESTER - In a special meeting Friday, the planning commission drafted and approved a letter to send to the Act 250 district environmental commission regarding the proposed Hampton Inn and Suites project.

In the letter, the commission decided to address two issues they felt were important: landscaping and the impact on local businesses. To be included in the letter, all members of the commission had to vote unanimously on the language used.

"Streetscape plantings and the further screening of buildings with the use of low lying bushes, hedges and similar landscaping is recommended by the Commission. Re-use of as many on-site trees as possible is strongly encouraged ad applicant are advised to work with a certified arborist to ensure the best possible plan," the letter reads.

Dead or diseased trees should be replaced with the appropriate caliper plantings was also included in the letter, something the Development Review Board also discussed with the applicant.

The commission discussed whether or not it was their place to put language into this letter. In the end, they decided to include it.

"Notwithstanding the positive effects of the project, the Commission remains concerned about the impacts to the existing 26 lodging establishments," the letter reads.

In the meeting, the commission presented some questions and requests to the Hampton Inn representatives and discussed how they would impact the project. While a previous meeting was held to hear a presentation of the project and take public comment on the subject, on more than one occasion during this meeting, the audience needed to be reminded that the time for public comment had closed.

Some of the concerns raised by the public were reiterations of what had been stated before. The economic impact to the other lodging establishments was brought up on multiple occasions. Joy Slusarek, owner of JOY All Things Underthings wanted to know more about what kinds of retail would be going into the three retail buildings at the front of the building.

Currently, there is an appeal pending on the permit for the Hampton Inn and Suites. Steve Bauer, owner of the Inn at Willow Pond filed the appeal. While only his name appears on the court documents, he said he has filed this on behalf of himself and other owners of lodging establishments in the area.

"We feel there is a whole bunch of things that don't conform to the Town Plan and town bylaws," he said.


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