CONWAY — The Conway Planning Board is scheduled to hold its continued review of the scaled-back Viewpoint North Conway LLC Intervale hotel proposal at the Marshall Gym at the Conway Recreation Center on Thursday starting at 6 p.m.
Josh McAllister of HEB Engineers submitted revised plans to the planning office last month after appearing before the board in September, when he was told to go back to the drawing board.
The latest proposal shows the three-story measuring 20,735 square feet and having 70 rooms. This is a drastic reduction from the originally proposed four-story structure totaling 105,836 square feet and comprising 105 rooms. It was then scaled back to 59,412 square feet and 98 rooms before being reduced further.
The latest proposal also opens up a 75-seat restaurant and rooftop lounge to the public. Past presentations had them for guests only.
Developers will be seeking a waiver for building height at the front of the building.
“Basically, we say that 95 percent of the building is less than 40 feet, and 4.7 percent, which is associated with the elevator shaft to get to the observation deck and the stairs, is the only portion of the building that's over 40 feet (at 45 feet)," McAllister said in December.
He said his clients decided to open the restaurant to make up for reducing the number of rooms.
“My clients ran their financial models … and decided this sort of option would work for them. We were able to treat the hotel and the restaurant as stand-alone uses. So we'd have enough parking for a hotel with 70 rooms. And we have enough parking on site for a restaurant with 75 seats, for a total of 102 spaces,” said McAllister.
“I'm hoping the planning board recognizes that we initially presented a project that met all of the requirements in the zoning district with the exception of two minor waivers that the town staff supported," McAllister said.
Attorney Roy F. Tilsley Jr. of Bernstein Shur of Manchester was interviewed earlier this week. It was Tilsley who filed a nuisance complaint with the planning board in August on behalf of Mike Grant of Intervale. He said he speaks for the entire group of abutters to the proposed hotel, but technically Grant is his client.
Mike Grant is husband of planning board member Eliza Grant, who has recused herself from discussion of the Viewpoint project.
“We are certainly happy with the downsized version of this hotel — that’s a good thing," Tilsley said.
"We still have some questions and concerns about what is being proposed. The developers still want to exceed at least a small portion of the building — they want a waiver for that — and our group is opposed,” said Tilsley.
He added that his client and the group also have concerns about there being sufficient parking to serve both the hotel and restaurant/lounge under the new proposal.
“Obviously if there are not enough parking spaces, that potentially could spill over into the surrounding neighborhood, that is a concern for the people who live there,” said Tilsley.
Another issue, he said, is getting clarification about the new observation deck. "Is it an outgrowth of the bar and restaurant? Is it different from an amenity for guests only? I don't think we have a clear understanding of how that area is going to be used," Tilsley said.
Also interviewed was Steve Porter, selectmen's representative to the planning board, who noted, "I have no problem granting them a waiver for the building height for that small section. In my opinion, and other board members may take a different view Thursday night, they have pretty much met all we asked them to do."
Porter said Town Engineer Paul DegliAngeli and town staff had some concerns about the parking calculations for the lounge, "so we will see Thursday night."
Among issues the board took action on at their September meeting was recommending developers reduce the building height to 40 feet, “consistent with surrounding buildings,” down from its originally proposed 54.5 feet that was subsequently amended to 51.5 feet.
The submission of the revised plans took place a week after McAllister met Dec. 7 with town staff and state Department of Transportation officials in a scoping meeting regarding traffic impacts.
That session was requested by the planning board and abutters to go over intersection improvements, crosswalks and sidewalks, traffic speed limits and the potential need for a traffic light or roundabout.
Porter felt a roundabout would help slow traffic at the location.
Selectman Carl Thibodeau said Route 16 is a state road and there is a need for through traffic for trucks headed north to Berlin and Gorham.
Conway selectmen voted 4-0 on Dec. 21 not to install crosswalks on Route 16 at the Scenic Vista or Intervale Cross Road.
But at Porter’s suggestion, they left the door open to requesting a roundabout at that location possibly be put into the state’s 10-Year Highway Plan.