The recommendation granted by Gloucester City Council's Planning and Development subcommittee for a hotel overlay zone on Commercial Street on Wednesday night is just an early step toward making the planned Beauport Gloucester LLC hotel a reality, but the action proved to be significant.
That's because, while rightfully urging approval of the overlay — which doesn't yet allow construction of a hotel on the former Birdseye site, but merely opens the door to it — the committee recognized the concerns of many residents and made a couple of key changes as well.
As expected, the Planning and Development subcommittee removed Mac Bell's 33 Commercial St. building and parking lot from the area covered by the add-on zoning. That should ease any lingering concerns raised by opponents that a second hotel could be built within the same district. More significantly, the committee also added language prohibiting condominium or other extended stay units, long-term issues that some objectors had raised if the time ever came when a traditional hotel would need those alternatives to survive economically.
The debate over a specific hotel project has not yet begun. In fact, Beauport Gloucester has not put a firm plan forward, pending approval of the overlay zone.
But with recommendations from the Planning Board and now its own subcommittee, City Council should now emphatically approve the overlay zone to keep this project on track.