Variances OK'd for project at 580 Winnacunnet Road
By Nick B. Reid
Hampton Union, August 20, 2013
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON BEACH — The dilapidated Ocean Motel is going to be razed in favor of a new condominium complex, after a developer's application to overhaul the site was accepted this time around.
Peter Ross, the developer, last month proposed a project on the site that had too many units and not enough parking, according to the board and neighbors. His application for 580 Winnacunnet Road was accepted this month, mainly because of a major change that will add 15 parking spaces on the ground floor of the structure.
Above the parking area are three floors with 12 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units. The prior proposal was for 28 units and reached as high as 53 feet, causing many neighbors from Red Coat Lane to decry the project at the public hearing. No abutters voiced any concerns this time around. Attorney Peter Saari suggested that Ross spoke to many of the neighbors and worked with them.
The most obvious change, besides the removal of a sagging building that many people thought was about to cave in, will be the altered placement of the building and parking lot. The new structure will be placed up against the sidewalk with entry and exit all coming in a smaller space on the west side of the property. As it stands now, the motel is pushed back against the rear edge of the property line and there are two wide entrances.
"There's a lot of curb-cut area where there's no sidewalk and obviously a lot of people walk on that section of Winnacunnet," Saari said, noting that the new design confines the vehicle access to a smaller spot and extends the sidewalk the rest of the way.
Saari detailed several features the project boasts, including environmental paving techniques, a larger setback from the adjacent properties and better property values, more tax revenue and enhanced aesthetics.
"What's there now is not in the public interest, there's no question about that," he said.
After a short public comment session in which one nearby resident questioned the amount of parking and was satisfied by the 49 spaces and another said the project would be "good for the neighborhood," Zoning Board member Tom McGuirk noted the "stark contrast" between those comments and Ross' last proposal.
ZBA member Ed St. Pierre said "that's big" that no one came to oppose it this time around. He said he's "willing to trade off a little extra height" for architectural features like those on the roof of the proposal "versus the flat roof at the OC (Studio Suites)."
"I think it does justice to the beach," St. Pierre said.
McGuirk said the building "is one of my favorites design-wise" and he was glad to see the developers came back satisfying the required parking.
ZBA member Bill O'Brien said he was in favor of the project, but wanted to make sure the Conservation Commission was OK with the pool being relocated within the 50-foot buffer zone at the edge of the property.
The board agreed unanimously to approve the application, leaving the decision on the pool being in the buffer zone to the Conservation Commission.
A recent photo of the Ocean Motel at 580 Winnacunnet Road