2018-06-28 / Around Town

Zoning Board Approves Fifth Element Hotel

By James Merolla


The noticeable section of the former gas station overhang was taken down as a safety precaution. The lot will remain closed as the "skin" is removed and the remainder is deemed structurally sound. The engineering and design plan stage of the hotel project is ongoing. No date is set to begin construction at this time. An announcement will be made prior to starting, as to the schedule. The noticeable section of the former gas station overhang was taken down as a safety precaution. The lot will remain closed as the "skin" is removed and the remainder is deemed structurally sound. The engineering and design plan stage of the hotel project is ongoing. No date is set to begin construction at this time. An announcement will be made prior to starting, as to the schedule. After months of testimony, the Newport Zoning Board of Review voted 4-1 on June 25 to approve a plan to build a 40-room hotel with an indoor garage above the Fifth Element Restaurant.

The hotel will convert a former gas station into guest rooms, potentially bringing more business to the Broadway area.

The contentious case, vehemently opposed by abutters living directly behind the restaurant and gas station, boiled down to a parking space variance. The hotel, by ordinance, would need 60 spaces. There will be 43 on site under the plan, and 12 will be rented at night and on weekends at a dental office across the street.

Chair Christopher Kirwin cast the opposing vote. Board members Heidi Blank and Robert Buzard recused themselves.

“These are very difficult cases. I believe the need for so many spaces offsite will have a negative and injurious impact on the abutters and other businesses… and the neighborhood,” Kirwin said.

Board member Bart Grimes cited the rights of those who live in a residential zone vs. a general business zone, saying they had, “a common border, but have competing interests.

“It will improve the neighborhood, especially the unsightly former service station and garage,” he said.

Board member Charles Allott said the plan, “Does keep me up at night. I worry about Kilburn Street. It is a significant four-story building, right up against a R-10 zone. That’s always a problem. Ten years [ago] we were hoping to see new businesses on Broadway, and now we are. The applicant has done absolutely everything they can.”

Zoning Officer Guy Weston said it was incumbent upon the petitioner to provide for every possible parking space as criteria for approving the petition. “If the applicant has physically provided all of the off-street parking they can, [then] hardship should be realized, and variance should be granted,” he said.

Attorney Turner Scott, representing the owners, Frank Doyle and Brad Cherevaty, asked for a new hearing with a revised plan he had submitted on May 28 that removed a service area from the design and converted the loading zone in front of the proposed hotel to add three additional parking spaces.

“The two required loading zones are zones when they are actually in use, and they become five parking spaces when they are not,” he said.

Attorney James Callaghan, representing six opposing abutters, objected to the new hearing, saying he only had hours to go over it.

But Allott said the new plan provided no harm to objectors, calling it an “enhancement.”

“I think we would be remiss not to reopen it. I can’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t allow for a better plan to be voted on,” he said.

“This is not a personal battle at all,” Callaghan said. “They have a different view of the neighborhood, its growth, the zoning and the variance itself. It is just too overwhelming for the site. They want a certain size hotel and they can’t fit it. The extra [parking] spots will end up on the neighbors’ streets.”

Scott said the case was about the revitalization of Broadway and removal of “an unused oil-soaked eyesore [abandoned gas station] … It will bring Broadway back to life.”

The vote was one of two dozen decisions that were rendered. The board approved several guest house petitions, including:

. The petition of Christopher Hosking, applicant, and Jane Stevenson, owner, to approve the adjustment of a second dwelling unit as a guest house with the conditions that only two guests are allowed, the guest house is only in operation when management is on site, and that it is restricted to the single room above the garage. The approval is for one year, after which the petitioner must come before the board again to gain approval for continued use.

. The petition of SBJ Realty, LLC, applicant and Brennan Realty, LLC, owner, for a variance to construct a 12-unit vacation guest facility, providing zero loading zones (two zones required) at 37 Memorial Blvd, 39-39½ Memorial Blvd., and 0 Merton Road. The petition was approved pending the merging of the three small lots, with the project to begin within 18 months. The petition of Paul McBride to construct a four-room guest house at 173 Broadway was continued to the July 23 meeting.

Zoning Board Catches Up

Hotels and guest houses were not the only petitions before the Zoning Board of Review at the June 25 meeting. The board heard dozens of requests that had been delayed when a faulty elevator cancelled the May 29 meeting.

Approved:

. The petition of Kenneth Blane, applicant, and Kathleen and David Staab, lessee, to convert existing retail space into a fastfood restaurant at 435 Thames St.

. The petition of Cotton Candy, applicant, Mortgage Acquisition, LLC, owner, Charles Devine, lessee, for permission to convert the existing retail space into a fast-food restaurant for the service of cotton candy at 12 Long Wharf Trail.

.The petition of Newport Restoration Foundation for a permit and variance to reduce the area on Lot 13 applying to the property at 29 Touro St., a general business zone.

.The petition of Mark Aramli

for a permit to add a second- and third-floor addition to his property at 17 J.T. Connell Memorial Road.

.The petition of Michael Fischman and Sarina Rodrigues to continue to house their six chickens at 41 Burnside Ave.

.The petition of Nancy D. Vicki to construct a single-family dwelling on property located on Eustis Avenue.

.The petition of Kevin and Dina Quirk to relocate an existing pool, construct a rear addition to the main house and construct a detached pool house at 24 Brenton Road.

.The petition of James and Carol Potter for a special use permit and variance to construct a rear addition, a second-floor dormer and a front porch on their lot at 36 Whitwell Ave.

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