Preliminary Hearing held on Hampton Inn

MANCHESTER - Developers looking to bring a Hampton Inn and Suites presented their proposal for a 98 room hotel they would like to build on High Ridge Plaza to the Development Review Board during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, April 30. Kirk Moore, of BMA architects, said this hearing was to get some feedback before the formal start of hearings on May 14.

The Mullaney Hospitality Group of Sayville, N.Y. hopes to purchase High Ridge Plaza, the five acre parcel of land on Route 7A. The development will feature a hotel in the back of the parcel and three commercial buildings in the front, according to the plans announced to date.

"The proposal that we're going to be bringing to you, is to take down all the buildings on the site, scrape the site and basically start from scratch," Moore said. "Which would entail putting the hotel at the back of the site."

The potential site plan also calls for opening up the existing mini-roundabout and making it more like the roundabout where "malfunction junction" used to be, he said. A pocket park will also be installed at the corner of Hillvale Road, where there is currently a building.

This hearing was a chance for the DRB to express concerns or ask questions about the preliminary plan. Moore said one of his own questions has to deal with amounts of green space and asphalt, especially in the front of the buildings.

One of the issues the DRB had with the building design was the stone on the front of the building, as well as the gable towards the front. They seemed to favor the design that Mullaney Hospitality Group presented to the Manchester Village when they were seeking to purchase the Village Country Inn property two years ago.

Members of the DRB asked a few general questions about the business strategy behind the proposed project, but otherwise held off from more detailed questions or observations about the zoning aspects of the plan, pending the start of the formal review next week.

The building will feature clapboards, shutters and a "New England" design. It will not be a large square building, with a flat rood, Moore said. "This is a work in progress," he said. "Which is why we're showing these vignette sketches tonight."

In an interview after the meeting, Berta Maginniss, executive director of The Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Com merce said that said that any investment in the community says positive things about the community.

"The chamber wants whatever businesses that come [to Manchester and the area] to appreciate the landscape and the environment," she said. "We leave that to the town ... and does it [any new business] fit within their guidelines. Until all of that progress takes place, the chamber just watches with interest."

Along with the preliminary hearing with the DRB, there were separate meetings with residents of the Hillvale neighborhood, to discuss the possible development in their area, as well as with business owners.

"In the past week, my family received a positive reception from town residents, government officials and business owners," Mullaney said in a statement. "We will continue to meet with interested parties are the project planning moves forward."

In other news, the DRB saw a change of use permit application for a frozen yogurt shop and a ticket booth in front of Spiral Scoops for Hills Alive, an art festival program that has run for the past two years. The decisions on these applications will be issued in 45 days.

They also approved roof work on the WEQX building on Highland Avenue after extended debate. The roof needs replacement, and the current owners would prefer to replace it with something other than a slate roof, which it currently has.


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