Zoning Board OKs New Surf Motel

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and

Seacoast Online.]

An aerial photo of the aftermath of the Surf Motel fire.
{Courtesy photo not in original article.

HAMPTON -- The owners of the Surf Motel got zoning approval last week to rebuild their family run hotel that was destroyed in February's devastating fire that took out an entire block of businesses at Hampton Beach.

The town's Zoning Board voted unanimously Thursday to approve numerous variances for the five-story building to be built on the similar footprint at the site now being used as a parking lot.

"This should be built and if anything it should be pushed through," said Zoning Board member Vic Lessard.

Attorney Peter Saari told the board that owner John McKeon wants to rebuild the popular hotel that burned down Feb. 25 along with Mrs. Mitchell's and Happy Hampton.

"John wants to stay here and have something that will be lasting, attractive and a credit to the beach," Saari said.

"He could have easily taken insurance money and walked, but he wants to stay and I think he deserves a lot of credit in these times, particularly when banks are not exactly being free spending when it comes to loans, particularly at Hampton Beach."

Saari said the lengthy list of variances is due to the fact the building is a mixed use of commercial and multi-family residential.

While the old Surf Motel only had 15 hotels room, the new one will consist of 42 rooms and six residential units.

Similar to the old Surf Motel, there will be commercial businesses on the first floor with the hotel units on the second, third and fourth floor.

The fifth floor will consist of six dwelling units.

Saari said the building will connect to Mrs. Mitchell's, eliminating what used to be small alley between both buildings.

A fire wall, he said, will separate the two buildings.

Variances granted by the board for the project included one for 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.

Lessard said McKean deserves a lot of credit for wanting to rebuild the hotel. There hasn't been a major hotel construction at the beach in years.

"This is good for the beach and good for the town," Lessard said.

Last month, the Zoning Board approved several variances for the reconstruction of Mrs. Mitchell's Country Shoppe.

The three-story building will house the gift shop on the first floor, the second floor will be split between storage space and a residential unit, and the last floor will be another residential unit.

Both projects are exempt from the sewer moratorium that prevents any future homes or businesses from hooking up to the town's sewer system without state approval.

The state Department of Environmental Services ordered the moratorium because the state thinks the wastewater treatment plant is at 80 percent capacity.

However, it exempted the burned-down properties on A Street as well as the new bathhouses, part of the $14.5 million Hampton Beach upgrade.

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