Want to Rebuild Popular Gift Shop at Beach
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 15, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Selectmen voted last week to issue a corrective deed to allow the owners of Mrs. Mitchell's to rebuild what they had prior to the Feb. 24 fire that burned a block of businesses at Hampton Beach, including the popular gift shop.
Attorney Steve Ells told the board the Mitchells' want to rebuild and hope to be back in business for the 2011 summer season. But when preparing plans for the reconstruction, he said it was discovered that the footprint of the Mitchell building slightly encroached beyond the boundaries of their deeded lot by a few feet on the northeasterly corner of the property along Ocean Boulevard and Ashworth Avenue.
"The Mitchells are asking you to help them correct this situation to enable their family to get on with the reconstruction of the building and resume their businesses," said Ells.
The board, at his request, decided to issue a corrective deed so the Mitchells can rebuild pending verification that the land in question is not highway land.
Ells explained the lot was originally laid out by the Hampton Beach Improvement Corporation in plans dating back in 1898.
When the lot was leased to the Mitchell family, the building was constructed pursuant to that plan. But when the Mitchells purchased the land from the town in 1987, the land was sold based on a survey prepared by Parker Survey on behalf of the town.
Ells said had this been discovered back then he believes accommodations would have been made to draw the lot line to accommodate the building.
Henry Boyd of Millennium Engineering, which took over the Parker Survey Company, said he conducted research and can't find anything that explains why this change was made.
Selectmen Chairman Richard Nichols said it appears a mistake was made.
Selectman Richard Bateman agreed.
"It sounds to me like we offered many years ago a plot of land," Bateman said. "They liked it, we sold it, they bought it. We all thought that is what it was. Make it happen so that is how it is."
Town Attorney Mark Gearreald noted that while two surveys depart on more than one spot, the Mitchells are only requesting the several feet encroachment on the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Ashworth Avenue.
They have agreed to release the other areas to the town.
Bob Mitchell, owner of the property, explained that when you are driving down Ashworth Avenue their entrance has always been that corner.
The area is a gateway to the beach and without the encroachment the building wouldn't look as it did.
Gearreald explained this particular deed does not include a setback restriction that is included in other leased lots that have been sold at the beach.
Nevertheless, the town attorney said to rebuild there is a four-foot setback in the zoning ordinance and if there is not such a setback in the plans they will need to go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for variances.
"I just want to thank the Mitchells," said Bateman, after the board took a vote to issue the corrective deed. "Thank you for having faith in Hampton Beach and rebuilding so quickly."
After the fire destroyed his business back in February, Mitchell said there was never a question about not rebuilding.
"We want to get back what we lost," Mitchell said. "That is our main objective right now. Our hope is to reopen Mrs. Mitchell's."
Three generations of family members, he said, worked in the gift shop that was opened by his grandparents, Freda and George Mitchell, in 1966.