Zoning allows more commercial building
To the editor:
Melissa Carlson’s letter regarding the proposed hotel in Winslow published on Aug. 9, was fraught with inaccuracies. Oppose or support the hotel, but at least be truthful with facts.
Size — the hotel site is not zoned for a 15-room hotel. In fact, hotels in Winslow’s core zone are “permitted” up to 15 rooms, and at room 16 they become a “conditional” use. This parcel of land is one of the largest in Winslow; land area matters considerably in what might fit on a parcel. The zoning regulations for this land allow a mixed-use project of more than 120,000 square feet, much larger than the less than 74,000 proposed for the hotel.
Intensity — the hotel will have fewer people on site compared to a non-bonused residential/commercial project, also less parking, less traffic and noise which is strictly limited by local and state law. Development on this parcel, under existing zoning rules, allows for a project over 60 percent larger than the proposed hotel.
Precedent — allowing the hotel is not creating a means to build larger than the zoning currently allows. Current zoning on this parcel allows for significantly more development than proposed. It is wrong to suggest it sets any precedent for something larger than currently allowed.
Economic vitality — the hotel will generate considerable local economic benefits to our downtown, helping support our retail and service businesses that line Winslow Way. Conservative economic studies look at visitors spending locally over $200 for every $100 they spend at a hotel. That is a significant positive benefit to our local businesses. It is not true that “smaller development” will be a similar economic generator.
High end restaurant providing “competition” — this isn’t bad, in fact competition is typically a good thing. It is more likely that visitors spending a couple of nights at the hotel will in fact try other local restaurants during their stay. Somehow inventing the notion that the Winslow Master Plan discourages new restaurants is false.
“Small town feel” — the land use regulations for Winslow implement the Comprehensive Plan and Winslow Master Plan; that’s what they’re supposed to do. The Design Review Board concluded that the hotel architecturally met those regulations and guidelines. The hotel is never more than three stories above grade, surrounded by a neighborhood that includes 11 buildings three and four stories tall.
Services for people who live here — the hotel has been designed to serve local needs for weddings, music recitals, and simply a place to meet in town. The owner has consistently made public statements about how engaging the community is critical to the success of the hotel. This has been ignored by the planning commission. It is disingenuous to suggest, as Carlson does, that the courtyard is only accessible to “patrons.” It’s a hotel, who has not walked into a great hotel and experienced their lobby or grounds?
Jobs — yes, the hotel will provide new jobs, a range of jobs at a range of salaries. That’s typically seen as a good thing. We also proposed adding some affordable housing to the overall project, to serve some of the staffers at these new jobs, ignored by the planning commission.