ROCKLAND, Maine — Despite the concerns of some citizens about the proposed height of a five-story downtown hotel, the Rockland Planning Board has found the project application complete and set a formal public hearing for next month.
In response to the height concerns, architect Scott Teas said that five stories was needed to make the project financially feasible.
As proposed, the $2.9 million high-end, boutique hotel — to be located at the intersection of Main and Pleasant streets — would be 64 feet tall and have 26 rooms.
Teas said he understands the concerns of some people but that it is common to have different size buildings next to each other in urban areas. He presented examples in downtown Rockland and in Camden of neighboring buildings of significantly different heights.
At the start of the planning board meeting Tuesday night, letters from neighbors, expressing concern about the height of the proposed hotel, were read by the code enforcement officer.
Gretchen Kuhn of Robinson Street stated in her letter that she supports the hotel project but that it should be no more than four stories tall.
Sandra Dillon of Pleasant Street also stated in her letter that the building should be reduced by one -story.
“The building is too tall. It will stick out like a sore thumb,” she wrote in her letter.
Terrence and Mary Jane Martin of Robinson Street stated in their letter that the size of the hotel did not fit the character of the neighborhood.
Despite the concerns, the hotel meets the city’s height limit.
Teas said the hotel’s theme would be art-based to fit into the growing reputation of Rockland as an arts community. He said that there would be large walls, and not corridors, on each floor and that the walls would be adorned with art.
Another issue that had been raised as an issue by neighbors was parking. The previous plan to seek a zone change and place an off-site parking lot in a residential zone was met with considerable opposition at a Feb. 3 city council meeting.
In response, the project now calls for valet parking. The new proposal drops the need for a zone change and would create a 30-space gravel off-site parking lot adjacent to the parking lot of Midcoast Mental Health Center. The entrance to the parking lot would be on Park Street near Eastern Tire.
The developer is ADZ Properties LLC — whose principal owner is Cabot Lyman of Lyman Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston.
ADZ had received approval in October 2010 for a mixed retail, office and residential complex on the lot. The foundation was constructed in October 2011, but then the developer decided to pursue a hotel instead.
The public hearing is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20.
This is the second hotel plan being put forward in Rockland. A $6.5 million, 65-suite upscale hotel is being planned by Rockland Harbor Park LLC on waterfront property near Harbor Park. Harbor Park has not yet submitted a formal application for the project but held a pre-application meeting earlier this year.
At the Tuesday night planning board meeting, the board gave final approval to O’Hara Corporation to replace an existing structure at 130 Tillson Avenue with a 16,890-square-foot building.
The new building at the site would be the centerpiece of cooperation between O’Hara and Sabre Yachts. Sabre yachts will be built in the Rockland Industrial Park at the North End Composites facility. North End builds Back Cove Yachts at the Rockland plant and is a sister company to Sabre Yachts of Casco. The new O’Hara building will allow Sabre to build larger boats that can be finished off at the O’Hara facility and then delivered to customers by sea.
The building to be replaced was built in about 1900.
The board also gave final approval to Liberty Hospitality of Maine LLC to convert two condominiums into time share units at its Trade Winds Motor Inn at 2 Park Drive.