February 17 2016

Board of Appeals Votes to Uphold Building Permit for Residence Inn by Marriott in The District

By: Rich Hosford

After two months of long meetings on the subject, the Board of Appeals has voted on an appeal of the building permit for a Residence Inn by Marriott in the District. 


As reported previously, the Planning Board was attempting to appeal a building permit for the project because the plans include two stove-top burners in each of the rooms. Members of the Planning Board pointed to the Planned Development District (PDD) for The District which states “hotels” but not “residence hotels” are allowed on the site. They then pointed to the zoning bylaws that state hotels may not have cooking in rooms occupied by guests. 


However, representatives from National Development, which owns The District, said the use table of the PDD brings some ambiguity into the process by saying “full service hotels” with amenities are allowed. The use table also lists Select Service and Boutique hotels as being allowed, two terms not defined in the town’s bylaws.


They also highlighted a section of the PDD that said ambiguities in the language of the bylaw were to be resolved by the building inspector. Building Inspector John Clancy did approve the building permit for the plan after making some changes to the original, including removing ovens from the rooms and reducing the cooktop from four burners to two. 


The Planning Board members, however, felt that the plans went against the vote of Town Meeting in 2009 when it approved the PDD and they argued that no cooking should be allowed.  Town Meeting members who spoke during the proceedings argued the intent of the restrictions was to ensure that nobody could live in the hotel for extended periods of time. 


Proponents of the project argued that, despite the name, the Residence by Marriott was not a long-term hotel. Instead it catered mostly to business travelers and that the in-room cooktops were meant for travelers staying a week or two at a time. They also said that completely eliminating the stovetops would be a non-starter for the Marriott brand and if the building permit was appealed their investors would potentially lose millions of dollars. 


On Tuesday the Board of Appeals voted to uphold the building permit for the project on the condition that National Development (listed as NEEP Investors Holdings LLC) enter into a covenant with the town detailing certain restrictions on the project and the enforcement mechanisms to ensure they are abided by. 


One of the items in the covenant restricts guest length of stay. It says no guest can stay for more than 90 consecutive nights or more than 150 within a twelve-month period. It also says the hotel has to be operated so that the average guest stay is no longer than 25 nights per year. It also stipulates that 25 of the 170 rooms will not have cook-top stoves. 


Additionally, it states that a certain part of the hotel must be used for a restaurant, which will be a third-party entity. However, if the restaurant were to close then the hotel must provide three meals to guests until a new one is brought in. 


You can find the full text of the covenant here. (Latest Version of Proposed Restrictive Covenant) 


National Development also agreed to donate $15,000 to the town, ostensibly to cover the attorney fees accrued by the Board of Appeals during the proceedings. 


After the Board of Appeals vote the covenant must now be approved by the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting. 

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