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May 2, 2013

State: Hotel must grant public way to Pavilion Beach, water

In a decision that both the Beauport Gloucester LLC hotel proponents and opponents are embracing, the state has declared part of the hotel design must retain public access to the water.

The state Department of Environmental Protection found that a “small part of the site” slated for construction falls on a beach area protected by a Chapter 91 designation. The classification ensures that the public has access to the wetland beach area, according to DEP spokesman Ed Coletta.

“It requires that there be facilities of public accommodation. That could include a restaurant or some other type of facility, a bathroom, that kind of thing,” Coletta said.

Sheree DeLorenzo and Jim Davis — grouped as Beauport Gloucester LLC — must apply for a Chapter 91 license, filing plans for the property where they intend to build a 101-room hotel on Gloucester’s Commercial Street. The plans must also include some kind of provision that accommodates public access to Pavilion Beach, according to Coletta.

And, Beauport Gloucester’s engineer and environmental consultant, Lester B. Smith, Jr., says the building plans hit that mark.

“What we’re doing is consistent with what they typically would ask for,” Smith said. “We’ll have to file a license application but it’s consistent with what we’re planning.”

Smith said the designated Chapter 91 area happened to fall into the same space that Beauport was already proposing as a public walkway, meant to create handicap accessible ramps and improve public entrances to the beach.

Jay Gustafaro, a commercial fisherman, former city councilor and self-described environmental activist, hailed the DEP’s designation and jurisdiction over the land as good news, saying the designation will protect not just access to the land, but will also shelter the fragile beach environment.

“It appears that the people at the DEP have heard us,” Gustafaro said. “Chapter 91 is all about protecting the seashore for the rights of the citizens.”

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