Burned down businesses seek to rebuild at beach
Surf Motel, Mrs. Mitchell's go before ZBA
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 17, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Owners of two beach businesses destroyed in the Feb. 25 fire at Hampton Beach will go before the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment this week with plans to rebuild.
The owners of the Surf Motel and Mrs. Mitchell's are scheduled go before the board Thursday, Aug. 19 seeking several variances for both projects from the town's zoning ordinance.
John McKeon — through McKeon Family Realty Trust — is seeking eight variances to rebuild the motel and retail space at 275 Ocean Blvd.
McKeon wants to construct the building on a smaller footprint which would include 42 hotel rooms with less than 330 square feet of sleeping room space and six two-bedroom dwelling units, with 52 parking spaces on site.
The family is seeking relief from setbacks, maximum number of stories, parking and the requirement that no multi-family dwelling shall be closer than 40 feet to any part of the building.
Bob Mitchell, owner of Mrs. Mitchell's, said his goal is to get all the approvals necessary to start rebuilding in the fall with hopes of reopening the souvenir shop at 285 Ocean Blvd. in 2011. Three generations of family members, he said, worked in the gift shop which was opened by his grandparents, Freda and George Mitchell, in 1966.
They are seeking nine variances including setbacks and parking requirements.
Hampton selectmen recently issued the Mitchell family a corrective deed for their property to allow them to build what they had.
An attorney for the Mitchell family requested the deed change back in June after it was discovered there was an error.
The deed, attorney Steve Ells said, did not match the footprint of the old Mitchell building, which slightly encroached beyond the boundaries by a few feet on the northeasterly corner of the property along Ocean Boulevard and Ashworth Avenue.
Meanwhile, fire investigators still can't say what caused the massive blaze on Feb. 25.
Hampton Fire Chief Chris Silver said there are currently five private fire investigators, a state investigator, a few attorneys, many insurance companies and the town's Fire Prevention Bureau involved in the case.
Silver said they are waiting to test evidence that was collected at the scene that will hopefully aid in determining the cause.
Hampton firefighters, with help from 40 fire departments from as far away as Laconia, vigorously battled the blaze that erupted in the first floor of the Surf Motel close to midnight on Thursday, Feb. 25.
The blaze was fueled by 90-plus mph winds from a Nor'easter.
When the fire was finally brought under control after four and a half hours early Friday morning, Feb. 26, the motel, Happy Hampton Arcade, Mrs. Mitchell's souvenir shop and two other properties were determined to be total losses.