By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, August 10, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The plans for Ocean Wok to construct a new
deck on its Ocean Blvd. restaurant have been
put on hold. [J.L. Stevens photo]
HAMPTON -- The town is sticking to its guns and will not issue a building permit to allow the Ocean Wok to construct a new deck even though the project was unanimously approved by the Planning Board.
Town Manager Fred Welch said he would like to see the project for the popular Chinese food restaurant at 7 Ocean Blvd. proceed but the order remains in effect until a deed issue is corrected.
"We are diligently working to try and correct it," Welch said. "This is inconveniencing a reputable business in town that we want to see continue and flourish."
While the deed issue was known at the Planning Board, the board voted to approve the 360-square-foot deck to be built adjacent to the restaurant after an impassioned plea by owner Matthew Fan, who said he is willing to take the risk involved with putting on the addition.
Welch said the issue is part of the building and the area where the owners of the Ocean Wok want to construct the deck is on a right-of-way owned by the federal government.
The town has been in the custody of the property since 1973 with use for the land restricted for public parks and recreation.
The building where the Ocean Wok is located has been there for more than 70 years and owners have disputed the town's position that a right-of-way goes through the property.
Welch said the problem is that 2004 plans filed with the Register of Deeds for the Hampton Harbor Condominium project, shows the right-of-way goes directly through the Ocean Wok property. He said the town has been working behind the scenes to have the federal government discharge the deed restrictions and give it to the town. Welch said once this occurs, the deck project can go forward.
Welch said the federal government owns the land because the area was once the home of the former Hampton Beach Boathouse. The right-of-way, he said was used to bring down the lifeboats to the harbor.
The Coast Guard discontinued use of the property and the right-of-way was deeded to the town but with the restriction that it only be used for public parks and recreation.
"At the time it was looked (at) to be a national park but that makes no sense with all the buildings there," Welch said.
The town manager said he put a stop order on any building permit for the Ocean Wok after receiving a letter from the U.S. General Services Administration. The letter stated they would not allow any construction at the location because it would violate the existing use restrictions that presently encumber the property.
Kevin Legare, of the General Service Administration, said they are currently working with the town to release the restrictive covenants on the property.
Once that is completed, he said the town will then have the ability to approve any use on the right-of-way.
Welch said the process should be completed shortly.
The town recently submitted an assessment of the property as part of the discharge process.
"Approval should be more or less a rubber stamp situation," said Welch.