Construction can once again move forward on a boutique hotel in downtown Rockport after the town issued a new building permit on Friday to developers.
Work on the partially built Rockport Harbor Hotel has been on pause since earlier this year, when a judge overturned the original permit issued by the town. But after a court-ordered review of the project by the town’s planning board, as well as the completion of a traffic and parking study, a new building permit was issued to the developer, 20 Central Street LLC on Friday.
The new permit is for a 20-room hotel, according to Rockport Planning and Development Director Orion Thomas, which is six fewer rooms than the project was originally permitted for.
Opponents have 30 days to file an appeal of the permit’s issuance. An appeal of the planning board’s Feb. 3 decision to let the project once again move forward after a review of parking and the hotels’ architectural harmony components has already been filed with the town.
The Rockport Harbor Hotel has been entangled in a legal battle since shortly after the project was approved two years ago. Over the last year, through both a court appeal and a lawsuit, opponents of the project ― a group of residents called the Friends of Rockport ― have tried to overturn the town’s approval of the hotel, as well as limit the size of the hotel.
The hotel is being built on what used to be a vacant lot wedged between a restaurant and former coffee shop in downtown Rockport. When it was initially proposed in 2019, developers planned to build a 35-room boutique hotel. The number of rooms was reduced to 26 after hearing concerns from residents, although the project would still consume the entire lot.
A judge agreed with the opponents that the number of rooms in the hotel must be capped at 20 and that an independent traffic study should be conducted in accordance with an August 2020 referendum that was approved by Rockport voters.
Kristin Collins, the attorney representing the Friends of Rockport, said Monday she had not yet seen the building permit.
An email seeking comment from 20 Central Street LLC did not solicit an immediate response Monday afternoon.