, Salem, MA

Local News

December 27, 2012

Whittier Motel looks to expand amid controversy

IPSWICH — The owner of the Whittier Motel is proposing a new two-story building with 10 additional rooms amid controversy over renovations to the existing building.

The County Road motel has been a contentious issue the past few years, with residents fearing that renovation work to the existing building could lead to permanent housing, creating more traffic and lowering property values.

The Planning Board unanimously approved a site review plan for the new building on Dec. 13 with several conditions, including developing a landscaping plan. A building permit must be approved before construction can begin, according to Building Inspector James Sperber.

Sperber said no applications for a permit had been filed as of yesterday morning.

The proposal to expand the motel did not require a Planning Board special permit, which would have considered whether the proposed building is appropriate for the site, according to Glenn Gibbs, director of planning and development.

Gibbs said the site plan review by the Planning Board did not consider work to the existing building.

Sperber did send a letter to Gibbs before the vote saying he believed that LeBlanc’s plans for the new building shouldn’t be approved until other matters are resolved. But town counsel determined that there was no legal basis for the request, Sperber said.

The pool on-site will be removed to make way for the new building, and the rooms will face the parking lot, according to plans filed with the town’s planning department. There will be a laundry facility on the first floor to be used by guests only, an office and a garage for maintenance, according to the plans.

Under the town’s bylaws, the rooms will not include cooking facilities.

Roger LeBlanc, a member of the Ipswich Zoning Board of Appeals, bought the property at 120 County Road in late January 2011 for $525,000, taking it over from North Shore Resorts, which had operated the 23-unit motel since 1972.

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