Bistro Public Hearing Postponed After Abutters Get Incomplete Files

The Zoning Board of Adjustment has continued a public hearing to consider two variance requests for the development of a wine bistro on Mohawk Drive.

Attorney Thomas Aylesworth, who represents the condominium owners abutting the parcels at the April 15 meeting, said they weren’t presented with all information available related to the variance requests when they asked for the files at Town Hall.

New information that was presented at the public hearing, which was continued from the Board’s March 18 meeting, included a traffic study and appraisal letter Aylesworth said weren’t provided to his client when requested.

A property manager for Kendallwood Condominium Association and one of its board members went to the Town Clerk on March 13 and asked for the entire variance file, but they were not given the traffic study or appraisal letter, according to Aylesworth.

Nashua attorney Andrew Prolman, who represented Rivierview, LLC Manager Cornelius de Jong at the meeting, said the traffic study was submitted to the Town on March 3.

Aylesworth asked the Board to continue the case until he is able to review all new relevant information.

Rivierview, LLC is seeking variances to allow parking to encroach into the 50-foot landscape buffer and to allow a structure to encroach into the 50-foot landscape buffer as part of the plans to develop the wine bistro at 6 Mohawk Drive.

Prolman said de Jong plans to add a 6-foot solid fence at the rear of the property and along the side lot lines between 6 and 8 Mohawk Drive. He also plans to pull back the existing property at 8 Mohawk Drive by 10 feet and add a solid fence.

The changes to his original plan are the result of discussions de Jong has had with neighbors and condominium owners, according to Prolman, who noted the plan includes thick green vegetation behind the fence to further buffer the bistro from its neighbors.

“The proposal before you is for a high-end wine bistro. (De Jong’s) hope and goal is to bring something fabulous and elegant to the Town that will be entirely upscale. He will apply for a beer and wine license only,” he said.

The building is to be 2,700 square feet, with the inside to reach a 60-foot height maximum. The space will feature an art gallery, two-story barreled ceiling in the middle of the building and a small kitchen and wine bar at the rear of the building.

The outside of the building is to be recovered brick with granite trim.

“The intent of the style of the building was to have more of a residential look,” Prolman said. “Very formal French-style gardens are an integral part of the project, and they’re important to the client and the core of the entire ambiance.”

Prolman noted the lot is difficult to develop, and a tight lot to work with.

Michael Scanlon of Verani Realty concludes in a letter following his analysis of the site that the application for the variances as presented in March would not have any adverse effect on neighboring properties, particularly because the immediate neighboring property is a parking lot.

He noted the 20-foot encroachment into the buffer that was included in the plans in March has been pulled back.

In a traffic study presented during the hearing, it is reported during weekday peak hours, there will be approximately 26 trips in and out of the bistro, with 38 trips anticipated on Saturdays.

Prolman reported in the analysis of the direction traffic will go, “95 percent of traffic will go out Mohawk Drive to Route 102, or cut through the Crossroads Mall.”

The study further reports that of the 95 percent of 26 or 38 trips during weekday peak hours, one vehicle is expected to cut through Granite Street to Boulder Drive, to Kendall Pond Road. And on Saturday peak hours, two cars are expected to follow that route.

Additionally, the parking lot has been designed to ensure headlights entering the property won’t be directed toward neighboring condominiums.

“The proposed 6-foot fence will be very effective in preventing any headlight encroachment, and the orientation of spaces is pointing away from the Kendallwood condominiums,” project engineer Earl Blatchford said.

“This application will allow my client to proceed, and given what he is doing with the design of the building, plus the fence and landscaping, we believe we will not be having any harm to any individual abutters,” Prolman said. “This project will cost well over $1 million when completed. This is not being brought to you by your typical developer. This is a passion for my client, who wants to bring something fantastic to the town. And we don’t see there’s any harm to the neighbors, while a significant gain to our client.”

Abutters to the project did not speak out against it at the meeting, but have been vocal in their opposition to the project. The Town Council recently approved re-zoning the lots from Commercial-IV to C-I.

A significant concern of Kendallwood condominium owners is that the bistro will have an adverse effect on their property values, as the use of the abutting property will increase substantially.

Chairman James Smith reminded abutters and the applicant’s attorney that new notices of the continued hearing on May 20 are not required to be mailed.

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