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Decision deferred on proposed Doylestown Borough hotel


For more than two hours, dozens of Doylestown Borough residents again implored the community’s zoning hearing board to protect their close-knit neighborhood from a hotel plan they said will derail the lifestyle they’ve enjoyed for decades.

While a very few voiced support for the 32-room hotel, with a 70-seat restaurant and an event space that can accommodate 120, the overwhelming number of largely Harvey Avenue and Hamilton Street homeowners strenuously opposed the scale of the four-story building proposed for 57 W. Court St.

This month’s meeting was the third in which the five-member zoning board considered local developer Larry Thomson’s requests for relief for the height of the building, parking and buffers.

For many, the hotel’s height, which would exceed the three stories zoning in the central commercial district allows, invades their privacy. Drone footage shot by one resident showed the view hotel guests would see from the building’s proposed balconies, which can accommodate up to eight people. As the property slopes down from Court Street, the balcony views from each level look directly into homeowners’ yards, decks and porches, the drone shots illustrated.

“There is no privacy anymore if you live on the top of that street,” Tim Edbrooke, a Harvey Avenue resident who presented the video, told the zoning officials. The visual image drew a gasp from the audience, as it demonstrated the dramatic impact of the proposed four-story hotel. The rooftop terrace included in the plan would provide a sweeping view of the surrounding area, the drone video illustrated.

While Thomson’s attorney said there is no bar planned for the rooftop, she declined to say if a portable bar could be used, when asked by a resident.

The attorney objected to the drone footage being accepted into the board’s official record, saying it lacked “authentication and foundation.” The objection was noted by the zoning board.

“Mr. Thomson knew what he could and could not do when he bought it,” said John Nicolo, who lives in the borough and owns rental properties on Hamilton Street. With noise, traffic and parking concerns, he said, “no one will want to rent.”

“We don’t want to make it a city,” said Tracy Ketterer, of the small borough, “with no green, no sky, no trees. “Please, don’t go too big.” Many others echoed those sentiments.

Thomas Beahm too, asked the board not to allow overbuilding.

“I have faith in you. This is an ill-conceived, ill-planned project that does not fit in the neighborhood,” he said. “If it doesn’t fit, you must not build it.”

Beahm’s rewording of a quote from O.J. Simpson’s attorney, Johnny Cochran prompted laughter from the audience.

Thomson is also asking for relief for parking. Zoning requires 72 spaces, while he has 61 planned. The calculations do not include parking for the hotel’s employees.

Following an executive session at the end of the Feb. 15 meeting, the zoning board gave all parties 30 days to present their cases in writing. A decision could come at the board’s April 18 meeting or it could be continued for another 15 days, said Christen G. Pionzio, the board’s counsel.

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