Attorney David Martland, representing the applicant seeking to tear down Rusty’s Bar and Grille along with a trio of one-story residential cottages on Wave Avenue, and construct a 23-room hotel, has requested the Middletown Zoning Board schedule a public hearing dedicated to the proposal.
The combined lots at 42-44 and 56 Wave Ave. are controlled by Atlantic Beach Suites II LLC, whose principals are Harry and Peter Kyriakides, the owners of multiple hotels and properties in Middletown. The company is seeking a special-use permit to build a hotel in the limited business zone and Zone I of the Watershed Protection District.
Martland made the request during the April 26 meeting of the Zoning Board, and is seeking a special meeting on June 7 due to significant public interest in the project. The board continued the matter to the next regular meeting on May 24. However, a June 7 hearing date was later posted to the town’s website.
The petition has been in limbo for over four years, with its initial iteration submitted in April 2018. Since then, a hearing before the Zoning Board of Review has been continued 33 times, according to town records. Past hearings before the Planning Board have included multiple local residents speaking out against the plan, citing the raft of hotels in the area and concerns over stormwater and increased traffic.
Indeed, the petition before the Zoning Board was on the books for so long that the project needed to be readvertised to notify abutters to the property before additional public hearings could take place, according to Middletown’s building official, Chris Costa.
A request for comment from the North Kingston-based law firm representing the opposition, Callaghan and Callaghan, was not immediately returned.
The proposal calls for a fourstory building, with the bottom level dedicated to parking due to the site existing within the federally regulated flood plain. The Kyriakides purchased the three lots on the street that borders Middletown and Newport in 2003 for $1.2 million.
In 2019, the Planning Board voted 4-1 in favor of issuing a positive recommendation on the proposal.
Meanwhile, the town is currently crafting new regulations to deal with longstanding development petitions that are repeatedly continued before the zoning board. Those recommendations, which require approval from the Town Council, will be issued in the coming weeks, according to town solicitor Peter Regan.
“This is not fair to either the public or the board that we get agendas that list cases that are not heard time after time,” board member Steven Huttler said, noting the significant preparation required for officials to get up to speed on petitions before they are litigated.
“That was actually the primary motivation for preparing these [new] rules and regulations,” said Regan. “It is to give more control over the agenda and items that are not received in a timely manner. And to also set a standard for applicants to understand what will happen if applications do not process timely.”
The council previously approved an amendment to the town ordinance limiting the number of hotel rooms allowed in the Atlantic Beach District to 260. However, the new rules do not apply to the Wave Avenue proposal, or any other that was submitted before the aforementioned amendment was adopted.