CONWAY — The Conway Planning Board on June 13 unanimously gave conditional approval to a proposal by Whitesides Realty Inc. to create a 34-apartment, three-building complex behind the commercial building that houses the Via Roma restaurant at 2076 White Mountain Highway in North Conway.
Whitesides Realty Inc. consists of the father-and-son team of John Whitesides of North Conway and John Whitesides Jr. of Bedford, Mass.
Project consultant Josh McAllister of HEB Engineers of North Conway told the board that a building in back of the commercial building will be demolished and replaced with three new buildings housing one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
One of the buildings will have 12 units; the other two will have 11 each.
The proposal includes removing one of the three existing Route 16 curb cuts in front of the Via Roma commercial building.
The plan also involves replacing the asphalt in front of the building with landscaped green space and a few trees. But the restaurant and other businesses in the 9,777-square-foot commercial building along Route 16 will remain as is.
The proposal involves creating a four-unit subdivision. It obtained a special exception earlier this spring from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to allow for 12 units per acre, McAllister said.
He said the project will involve adding fill to the west end of the property.
Selectmen’s board representative Steve Porter, who asked how secure the fill would be, McAllister replied that his office had worked with a geotechnical engineering firm to do “extensive excavation and soil testing to develop a plan for the foundation.”
Porter, a North Conway native, recalled that the site had been used for construction debris in the 1950s and ‘60s.
“I would hate to see anything built (using fill) that would not be secure enough to last 100 years,” he said.
McAllister told the Sun the units as proposed will be offered at fair market value rates.
As part of the ZBA approval it received, McAllister said 25 percent are deed-restricted for long-term rental for 20 years.
“The intent is for long-term rentals. The rate is to be determined,” said McAllister.
The board granted a substitution request that would allow for 1.4 parking spaces per unit compared with the town’s usual two spaces-per-unit standard.
McAllister said since some of the units will be studio apartments using Murphy beds, the 1.4-space measure is appropriate.
Another consideration is the complex’s location at the north end of the commercial Route 16 strip. As such, the units will be within easy walking distance of nearby businesses, McAllister said.
The board granted the waiver to allow for 97 parking spaces instead of 114.
Board Chair Steve Hartmann said although the region has no public transportation, he was “OK with that.”
The board also granted a waiver to a requirement for connecting driveways, agreeing with McAllistee that it could create traffic problems at the rear of the property.
The board also granted a vegetative buffer waiver request by a vote of 4-2, with board members Steve Steiner and Ray Shakir opposed. This involved removing the paved area in front of the Via Roma commercial building and replacing it with grass and a few red spruce and street trees.
Shakir questioned the impact of such a plan on the restaurant’s outdoor seating. Town Planning Director Tom Irving said that was an issue between the landlord and the tenant.
Pending state and town requirements, including a N.H. Department of Environmental Services alteration of terrain permit, the project received its conditional permit, with application set to expire Sept. 12.
In other business, the board approved a request to increase the occupancy of the tasting room at Tuckerman Brewing Co. from 49 to 90.
Representing Tuckerman Brewing, consultant Shawn Bergeron of Bergeron Technical Services of Conway explained that the business at 64 Hobbs St. in Conway Village uses shared parking with neighboring businesses.
In addition, after hearing from South Conway resident Tom Deans, the board voted 5-1 (Bill Barbin opposed) to add "brush cutting" to an ordinance concerning the removal of trees along scenic roads pertaining to RS 231:158 on Crown Hill Road, Greely Road, Gulf Road and Leavitt Road to facilitate utility services. A representative was on hand to represent the utility, Eversource.
The board also, at the applicant's request, continued site-plan review to July 25 for a proposal for an addition by the North Conway Grand Hotel.
The hotel's owner, Bellevue Properties of Middletown, R.I., is seeking to build an 8,335-square-foot, 33-room, three-story addition as well as a 10,260-square foot enclosed pool, according to Conway Town Hall.
It would also involve a new, 2,560-square-foot lobby and porte-cochere.