Friday, October 14, 2016

The Challenges of Rivertown

The Rivertown Lodge, the celebrated hotel created in the building on upper Warren Street that started life as a movie theater and morphed into a motel in the 1950s, is seeking approval from the Planning Board for a platform behind the building, which would only be there twenty weeks out of the year, spanning what would be Cherry Alley if Cherry Alley continued that far east and tucked between the backyards of two houses on Union Street.

Last night, there was a public hearing on the project, and it was standing room only at City Hall. To the surprise of some members of the Planning Board, most of the people in the room were there to support the project. Even the people who live in the houses in closest proximity to the site attested that the current and proposed use of the site presented no problem. The few who were concerned about noise were placated by the promise there would never be amplified music.

When the public hearing was closed, and the board got around to discussing the project, Planning Board member Carmine Pierro, who no longer actually lives in Hudson, confessed that he had come to the meeting prepared to vote no on approving the proposal, but based on the support expressed in the public hearing, he had changed his mind. He was, however, still concerned about parking. Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Planning Board, cited the city code, which indicates the "eating and drinking establishments" must have one parking space for every three seats. Kristal Heinz, attorney for Rivertown Lodge, explained that the space had different capacities for different uses: if people were simply standing, there could be 100 occupants; if they were seated, it was 71; if they were seated at tables--a requirement, in her opinion, for it to be an eating and drinking establishment--the space could hold only 31 people. Khosrova maintained that 100 people required 33 parking spaces; Heinz argued that requirement only applied when the space was being used as an "eating and drinking establishment," in which instance, its capacity was only 31 and only 10 parking spaces were required.

The Planning Board did not vote on the project last night. Instead it was decided that Khosrova and Heinz would work out the parking issue, and Khosrova would write a resolution that would include "all the things we discussed, so that Craig [Haigh, code enforcement officer] can enforce it." The vote to approve the project is expected to take place at the November meeting of the Planning Board.           

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