Plans for small boutique hotel presented to Gorham board

Although their site plan review application was not deemed complete at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, Steve and Liz Jackson said their dream is to turn the second floor of 101B Main Street into a unique seven-bedroom boutique hotel. (EDITH TUCKER PHOTO)

GORHAM — The planning board, meeting April 22, reviewed a proposal by Liz Micucci Jackson and Steve Jackson’s site plan review for a seven-room boutique hotel on the second-floor of a Micucci family property at 101B Main St.

The board however deemed the propsal incomplete and recommended the property owners hire a consultant to help them with a future presentation.

The building is a wood-frame, two-story structure 105 feet long and 22 feet wide.

Two apartments now occupy the second-floor; both in recent years have apparently been occupied by one tenant. At present, Atlas Artisan Pantry, a specialty grocery store, occupies first-floor retail space.

Board members did not find that Steve Jackson’s hand-drawn plan of the exterior had sufficient detail to allow them to know whether there would be adequate parking to meet the requirements of the town ordinance and/or whether one or more existing rights-of-way would cause problems.

Abutter Jay Guilmette, an owner of an around-the-corner property at 10-14 Exchange St. held by J.D. Developers, LLC, raised this concern during the Zoom board meeting.

Code Enforcement Officer John Scarinza reminded everyone that no overnight parking is allowed on Gorham streets during the winter months.

He also warned the applicants that the state fire marshal will be looking to enforce the state’s fire code and the state’s building code.

Jackson explained that he had met with Fire Chief Phil Cloutier and a member of the HEB Engineers, Inc. firm in North Conway to understand today’s life safety code requirements for both sprinklers and alarms.

The applicants were encouraged to invest in a professionally prepared and stamped site plan for this lot.

Jackson said he had found none recorded at the Coos County Deeds Office in Lancaster.

Detailed surveys are available, however, for the both properties that flank 101B Main St. Lots 20 and 22, also owned by Micucci family members.

At some point, the applicants noted, they will likely want to merge all three properties, requiring Lot 21 to be surveyed.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has not yet responded to a request for a review of the driveway permit, now required on both Routes 2 and 16, Steve said.

The Jacksons were distressed that neither planning consultant Tara Bamford nor the board could come up with a way that they could start building renovations with some form of conditional approval.

They are worried that delay could push the cost of the project beyond their means.

At the board’s suggestion, the Jacksons will consult with Bamford at their own expense in order to get a better grasp of how all the pieces of a complex project like this fit together.

Scarinza, however, said that in his experience as a CEO he has learned that going through the whole process is actually less expensive in the long run.

Site plan review should result in everyone involved understanding both exterior and interior requirements with everyone knowing what it will take to comply with all state codes and exactly which permits are needed.

It’s far cheaper to erase something on a drawing than it is to be forced to rip out newly installed plumbing, electric fixtures or carpentry.

Following the board’s suggestion, the Jacksons agreed to consult Bamford at their own expense to tap into her professional expertise on the site plan review process and the town’s ordinances adopted by local voters.

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