Popular shop is looking to rebuild and reopen by 2011
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 24, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The owners of Mrs. Mitchell's Country Shoppe are one step closer to rebuilding their souvenir shop that was destroyed in February's devastating fire that took out an entire block of businesses at Hampton Beach.
The town's Zoning Board voted unanimously Thursday to approve numerous variances for the project to be built on the similar footprint at the site that is now being used as a parking lot.
Owner Bob Mitchell said the plan is to reconstruct a building that is faithful to his family business that has been operating at the beach for more than 40 years. The building has a similar feel to the old Mrs. Mitchell's, which as founded by George and Freda Mitchell in 1966.
"The Mitchell family would like to rebuild and resume operation, hopefully in the 2011 season," said attorney Stephen Ells, who was representing the family. "The structure is attractive and should be a great start to the rebuilding of this block."
Ells told the board they need relief from the town's zoning ordinance regarding area setbacks and parking to accomplish that goal.
The proposed three-story building will have a roof-top deck.
Ells said the first floor will house the store, the second floor will be split between storage space and a residential unit, and the last floor will be another residential unit.
Zoning Board member Bryan Provencal made the motion to approve the project, saying they had met the five criteria on which variances are granted.
Zoning Board member Tom McGuirk said the plans for the new building was a good fit with the beach.
"It looks remarkably like the former building which is great," McGuirk said.
Zoning Board member Ed. St. Pierre agreed.
"This is a business that a lot of people want to see rebuild at Hampton Beach and I support it," St. Pierre said.
Mrs. Mitchell's will now go before the town's Planning Board.
Prior to the vote, the owners of the Surf Motel — which was also destroyed in the February fire — said they are 100 percent behind the plans to rebuild Mrs. Mitchell's.
"I support this plan. We have no problems with it," said John McKeon. "The Mitchells have been great neighbors for 50 plus years and we are in support of the plans and of them."
The Surf Motel was scheduled to go before the board Thursday but postponed the application until another date.
McKeon is looking to construct the building on a smaller footprint, which would include 42 hotel rooms with less than 330 square feet of sleeping room space and six two-bedroom dwelling units, with 52 parking spaces on site.
The family is seeking relief from setbacks, maximum number of stories, parking and the requirement that no multi-family dwelling shall be closer than 40 feet to any part of the building.