When we first learned of a developer’s plan to construct a three-story hotel building with 16 rooms, an 80-seat restaurant and 715 square feet of retail space on a vacant parcel on Front Street in downtown Greenport, our initial reaction was: “Where could that be?”
The only property that came to mind was at the southeast corner of Third Street, a seemingly unlikely lot because of its size. Turns out we were wrong.
That long fenced-in parcel adjacent to the movie theater and the American Legion post is exactly where the hotel building is proposed — even if at first glance it looks as if it could barely accommodate a food truck.
The reality is that if the village Zoning Board of Appeals grants the six variances the developer has requested, the proposal can push forward. We recognize that the approval process is often a game of give and take and few projects are ever built as initially proposed, but it appears that the village would have to concede an awful lot to the developer for this plan to succeed.
At a public hearing last week, the main point of contention was one particular variance request: to allow just 12 parking spaces rather than the 36 required by code. At one of Greenport’s busiest intersections, where parking is already a concern and the nearest municipal lots are a block or more away, granting such a variance would seem to be a stretch.
The code requirement for parking is not a randomly generated number. It’s based on a formula that should not be flexible in a village where a lack of parking is often cited as a top public concern.
If a hotel has 16 rooms and a restaurant 80 seats, how could the property owner realistically provide parking for only 12 vehicles? Particularly in a tourist community where inadequate public transportation is also an issue, as we noted in this very same space last week.
Asking hotel guests to park on Adams Street and carry their luggage from there doesn’t seem like a particularly safe plan.
Throw in the fact that the proposed building exceeds the two-story height allowed by code and that lot coverage is 16 percent more than permitted, and this project becomes even less reasonable.
As one ZBA member said at a meeting last month: “This is a really ambitious application.”
Yes, and not a very good one.