ROCKPORT — The Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously June 2 to deny one appeal brought by opponents of the hotel being built in the village and voted unanimously six times to uphold decisions made by the Code Enforcement Officer in a second appeal.

The board will likely decide at its next meeting to finalize findings of fact and issue a final denial of the appeal that was aimed against decision by Code Officer Scott Bickford to issue a building permit for the project.

There were two appeals before the board concerning Rockport Harbor Hotel being built at 20 Central Street by developers Stuart, Marianne and Tyler Smith. The first, which has been denied, dealt with the Planning Board’s findings. The the second, which they spent most of the June 2 meeting discussing, was an appeal of the Code Enforcement Officer’s issuing a building permit for the project.

At the beginning of the meeting, it was noted that the Friends of Rockport have withdrawn from the appeals leaving only one appellant to go on with the effort, Rockport architect John Priestley.

The second appeal argued the following:

“The Code Enforcement Officer cannot have issued the building permit for this project because it is not in conformance with the May 2020 site plan approval. Site plan amendment was required to change the number of guest rooms from 26 to 20 as this materially impacts the review standards as applied to the prior-issued permit.”

The appeal argues the Planning Board needs to review the traffic and parking study, under the ordinance, and that the town did not meet that standard by having the Code Enforcement Officer review it.

Another argument is that the ordinance requires an “independent” traffic study.

“The Gorrill Palmer traffic study was not independent as Gorrill Palmer regularly works with Gartley & Dorsky and the 20 Central Street LLC principals,” the appeal document says.

It goes on to argue the code officer erred in failing to apply parking standards and by not addressing concerns in the Gorrill Palmer traffic study. Specifically, the Friends argue the study found the valet parking could cause safety concerns.

The Friends also argue the code officer failed to apply the ordinance in terms of protecting scenic views.

In each instance the zoning board voted to either deny the argument or to find that Bickford did not err or abuse his discretion in issuing the building permit.

Some of the issues, including the argument about scenic views, were found to have already been dealt with in the long fight over this hotel.

It was stated that the court has already ruled in favor of the town and 20 Central on the issue of scenic views.

On the issue of whether Gorrill Palmer could be termed “independent,” both Tyler and Stuart Smith argued they did not regularly work with Gorrill Palmer and may never have worked with the firm. Town officials said the firm was picked on the basis of an RFP (request for proposals) process and that the process includes checking to make sure the company hired does not have conflicts of interest. It was noted that the Gorrill Palmer bid came in lower than others.

Concerning the argument about safety concerns, zoning board member Terri Mackenzie said she was concerned because the study raised worries about the possible use of electric bicycles going between the hotel and the offsite valet parking.

Bickford said he would have preferred the developers use a “horse and buggy” to take valets to the offsite parking because that mode of transportation has the clear right of way. He argued he did not make an issue of the E-bikes because they are a legal mode of transportation and he does not see that he has the authority to dictate the mode of transportation.

It was noted that the zoning board in looking at the appeal could disagree with Bickford’s decision, but still uphold it as long as it was clear he had the evidence at his disposal to make the decision and he did not abuse his authority in doing so.

The board upheld Bickford’s decisions and will likely finalize those findings at its next meeting.

Neither Priestley nor his attorney, Kristin Collins, attended the meeting.