, Gloucester, MA

November 27, 2012

Fort business seeks support on hotel, DPW work

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The head of a long-standing Fort neighborhood lobstering business has asked the city’s Fisheries Commission for its support in dealing with the potential impact of construction along Commercial Street in connection with the proposed Beauport Gloucester hotel.

In a one-page memo to the commission, re-established last year by Mayor Carolyn Kirk as Gloucester and other New England fishermen continued to wrestle with federal regulations and related issues, Vincent Mortillaro of Mortillaro Lobster Inc. said he is “seeking support from the Fisheries Commission to mitigate negative impacts during this (development and construction) process.”

The commission, headed by David Bergeron, is slated to discuss the issue as part of its regular meeting set for tonight at 5:30 in the first-floor conference room at City Hall.

The memo from Mortillaro aims to address both the planned construction of the hotel — being developed by Beauport Gloucester LLC, a corporation headed by New Balance owner Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree DeLorenzo, if they get City Council permit approval — and the overall Fort infrastructure improvements — for which the city has already begin engineering work. City officials had hoped for the infrastructure work to be funded by a state MassWorks grant of $5 million, but the state turned down Gloucester’s grant request, city officials learned earlier this month.

Kirk and Department of Public Works Director Mike Hale have indicated that the infrastructure project, aimed at boosting water and sewer service along Commercial Street, will go forward, with officials looking into funding options. Beauport Gloucester, meanwhile, has provided $600,000 to fund design for the infrastructure work, even as the hotel permitting process moves forward. Both Beauport Gloucester and city officials have emphasized that the developers’ grant is not, in any way, contingent on City Council approval of the project.

In his note to the commission, Mortillaro noted that “the project will impact the use of Commercial Street” as a whole, not just the area around the hotel overlay zone approved by the City Council in June for the former Birdseye property at 47-61 Commercial. The overlay zone essentially covers but does not supplant the marine industrial zoning designation that has been on place for years, and covers most of the historic Fort enclave.

“The entire length and width of Commercial Street is protected under the state Designated Port Area regulations for the transportation of marine fishery product and related commerce,” Mortillaro’s letter notes, “(and) infrastructure upgrades and construction could result in the existing marine industrial businesses being severely compromised.”

In addition to Mortillaro’s, adjacent marine industrial businesses include Ocean Crest Seafood, Neptune’s Harvest, Intershell, and Cape Pond Ice.

“It is only necessary,” Mortillaro wrote, “to protect the existing marine industrial businesses located on the opposite side of Commercial Street (and) ensure their daily operations are not disrupted and are given priority consideration during this period of transition.”