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Neighbors appeal zoning decision on proposed Doylestown hotel


Several neighbors who challenged the proposed development of a “boutique hotel” and event space on West Court Street in Doylestown Borough recently appealed the zoning board’s partial approval of the controversial project.

Mike Carr, a Doylestown attorney representing Leslie Richards and her husband, Matthias Ritzman, all of whom live on Harvey Avenue just a block from the proposed development, said they recently met with the developer and his attorney to discuss “alternative designs.”

However, despite the meeting, Carr said no agreement to reduce the scope of the project was reached.

“We don’t mind a hotel. We’d like it not to be an event space,” Carr noted, adding, “We want to keep talking.”

Kellie McGowan, the attorney representing the project’s developer, Larry Thomson, was not immediately available for comment.

“If we didn’t appeal, we would have no input,” going forward, said Carr. Richards and Ritzman hired Carr in cooperation with several other neighbors.

After several contentious hearings, the zoning board voted unanimously last month to allow Thomson to exceed current zoning in the central commercial district and build a fourth floor on the hotel. The board rejected his application for a parking variance that would have allowed him to provide 61 spaces, rather than the required 72.

As approved, the hotel would have 32 guest rooms, a 70-seat restaurant and a 120-person event space. Plans include eight rooms with balconies.

It’s unclear how Thomson intends to accommodate the required parking while maintaining the same size of the hotel and event venue.

Thomson pointed out that he can build a 52,000-square-foot building on the 39,000-square-foot-lot without any zoning variances, according to Carr. That’s based on a provision allowing floor area to exceed lot size by a certain amount and assuming a three-story building.

The current hotel plan is 41,000-square-feet.

“It’s in limbo right now,” said Carr. A judge could hear the appeal within the next several weeks or months.

“We would urge the judge to consider there was no basis for granting the height variance,” Carr said. “He bought it knowing what the rules were.”

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