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New Hope’s Mansion Inn may see big changes


New Hope Borough Council heard details of a project at the Mansion Inn on S. Main Street at its meeting Sept. 11.

Architect Ralph Fey discussed details of the project at the presentation, including a special exception request to allow expansion of the inn to bring outdoor dining up front. The variance would extend eating and food service outside of the setback lines to accommodate extra outdoor seating.

Eight small rooms exist in the primary structure, and 11 additional larger rooms will be added at the back of that building. Two existing rooms in a rear cottage are part of the campus.

Total indoor and outdoor seating in the initial plan presented to the borough was 354, and the council questioned the logistics involved with supporting what would be the largest restaurant in the village.

Coumcilman Dan Dougherty expressed concern over the impact on the community, stating that a dramatic increase of many people descending upon such a small building would affect other businesses and tourists who are not eating there, especially in terms of parking.

Council Vice President Connie Gering exclaimed that New Hope was becoming “restaurant row.” She maintained that a 350-seat restaurant would be the biggest in the village, and while she agreed with others on the council that the design was exemplary, she expressed concern over traffic and parking.

Dougherty added that the little driveway off Bridge Street to the rear of the Mansion Inn campus would be “the bane of your existence.”

Council president Alison Kingsley stated that the plans were “the nicest coming to borough in years,” adding that the challenge was viability. She suggested that more information was needed by the borough on managing both people and vehicular traffic. She suggested a workshop consensus where the designers could give the council their “best shot” on seating.

In other borough business, the Halloween high heel drag race for Oct. 21 was approved unanimously. The date was moved a bit earlier than previous years and is hosted by New Hope Celebrates, a nonprofit organization promoting equality and serving the LGBT community.

The race is an all-inclusive event celebrating diversity. Runners will run up the Mechanic Street hill in high heels carrying a pumpkin, decorate it, and run back down the hill to complete the race. The event will start with pre-race festivities at 4:30 and an after-party will be held at the Logan Inn.

A request by the Delaware River Towns Chamber of Commerce for a Turkey Trot on Thursday, Nov. 22 was passed without dissent. The event is comprised of a run through the streets of Lambertville and New Hope on Thanksgiving morning to build appetites while raising money for chamber programs and Fisherman’s Mark, a Lambertville-based nonprofit organization serving those in need in local communities.

The council entertained a zoning hearing board application for 104 New St. The process allows the borough to comment with support, opposition or otherwise register sentiment of the council prior to the zoning board. “The borough is always a party to a zoning hearing board application,” said Borough Solicitor TJ Walsh.

A request to add a 4-foot addition to the back of a two-gabled duplex at 104 New Street, allowing removal of privacy fences at the front of the property to “regain the charm” of the original house was considered by the borough.

Councilman Dan Dougherty mentioned an inclination to move positively with the request. The borough ultimately arrived at a neutral decision in forwarding the request to the zoning board.

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