BATH — A site plan amendment that involves changes to two parking lots around a future downtown hotel received unanimous approval from the Planning Board Tuesday night.
Developer Peter Anastos, whose proposal to build a Hampton Inn at the Prawer Block was approved last November, returned to the board seeking an amendment to his site plan.
The approximately 55,000-square-foot Hilton chain hotel will be built on property bounded by Front Street, Commercial Street and Summer Street.
Environmental testing conducted on the site has revealed more “unsuitable soils” than Anastos anticipated, Planning Director Jim Upham said. To develop the site as designed, a large amount of that soil would have had to be cut and removed.
“It’s not that the material is hazardous,” he explained. “It is somewhat contaminated and it would have to be, according to (Maine Department of Environmental Protection) regulations, trucked off to a special landfill.”
Doing so would be expensive, Upham said. As a result, Anastos proposed to reduce the amount of soil cutting and use the existing material as much as possible, which changes the grading on the site.
Plans for both the 94-space hotel parking lot and an adjoining lot retained by Sagadahock Real Estate Association and John G. Morse & Sons are affected by this change. The latter lot loses four of its proposed 40 spaces, and it will be at about the same grade as, and closer to, Front Street. Access to the lot shifts from Summer Street to Front Street.
A slope that was close to Front Street will now be between that lot and the hotel’s parking lot, and the smaller lot will be buffered from Front Street.
Changes to grades on the site have caused the hotel lot’s access drive, which had been in the middle of Commercial Street’s frontage, to be moved further to the north. Anastos sought and was granted a waiver for that change.
“The hotel actually is going to be 2 feet higher than originally designed,” Upham said. “And that doesn’t mean that the hotel is going to stick up out of the ground 2 feet, it means that there’s going to be less soil removal, so the whole site is higher. So that requires different grading of the (hotel) parking lot, so the parking lot is higher, and in order to make it such that the driveway from the parking lot to Commercial Street isn’t too steep, they’ve had to move the driveway further north.”
According to Upham, Bath Police Chief Mike Field supported the waiver since the change wouldn’t impact public safety.
Both parking lots will be paved, capping the soil underneath. The hotel lot will retain its 94 spaces, and Anastos proposed no changes to the facade of the 94-room building.
Anastos has said he would like to open the hotel next year.