Galley Hatch Owner: I Was 'Blind-sided'

Part of Eatery on Town Land

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union,

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- The owner of The Galley Hatch Restaurant said he was shocked to hear the town may be reclaiming the land that his restaurant currently encroaches on.

"I have no idea where this came from," John Tinios said. "I'm completely blind-sided, to be honest with you."

Tinios was reacting to comments made at last week's selectmen's meeting by Town Manager Fred Welch. Welch said due to the defeat of Article 39 at the annual Town Meeting on March 10, all encroachments of The Galley Hatch onto town land, including a sliver of the building, may have to go.

Voters rejected the article that would have solved the problem by deeding town-owned land to Tinios in exchange for The Galley Hatch owner paying for the reconfiguration of the intersection of Route 1 and Winnacunnet Road.

Tinios offered to square off the intersection by eliminating the spur road in order to improve what some residents have called one of the "most dangerous intersections in town." In return, Tinios would have gained ownership of town land that his business encroaches on, as well as additional land for six more parking spots.

Tinios said he doesn't know why the defeat of Article 39 is causing the town to think about taking land that has always been used by the restaurant.

"It was like this before we even bought the property, so I really don't know where this is coming from and what they are planning to do," Tinios said. "Are they going to reclaim a part of our building? I honestly don't get it."

The two parking spaces in front of the Citizens Bank next door, he said, were granted to the restaurant by easement. His understanding is the couple rows of additional parking at The Galley Hatch that are currently on town land was granted a long time ago by selectmen.

"I don't know what happened because nobody can find it," Tinios said. "No one can find a record of it. People remember it, but apparently it was never recorded."

Tinios said he's willing to work with the town to correct the issue.

"We have always had a great relationship with the town, and I'm sure something can be worked out," Tinios said. "If not, this will have a detrimental effect onto our business."

Meanwhile, former Hampton Beach Precinct Commissioner Stephen LaBranche recently wrote a letter to selectmen saying they need to address the issue.

"It is outrageous to think that The Galley Hatch, a successful business, should be able to encroach on town property or be given the town land for free," LaBranche said. "I think no one on the board should forget that just a few years ago, during the $13 million sewer and street upgrade project at the beach, there were two places on Ashworth Avenue that had to remove parts of their buildings and other people lost the front steps to their cottages because of encroachment."

He recommended the board put a dollar value on the encroached parcels and put if before the voters to see if they wish to sell it to The Galley Hatch.

"Otherwise, since construction is now ongoing at that site, make the necessary changes so there is no encroachment," LaBranche said.