The Gloucester City Council’s approval of a new hotel overlay district for a stretch of Atlantic Road on the city’s Back Shore this week rightfully grants two local inns a long-overdue chance to expand in the stepped-up market to meet the needs of a growing tourism market.
The council’s backing of the overlay, sought by the owners of the Atlantis Oceanfront Inn and the Bass Rocks Ocean Inn also recognizes what proved to be an effective negotiating process in which both sides seemingly got some — but not all — of what they wanted in a classic example of progress through compromise.
To that end, attorneys Michael Faherty, who represented the inn owners, and Ralph Pino, who represented a number of neighbors and their clients, all deserve immense credit for essentially working out a deal that can and should work for all.
Whether it does, of course, will hinge on how those parties can work together in the future — and therein lies the rub.
For in revising his clients’ request, Faherty backed off a provision of the initial proposal that called for the hotels to be able to add a number of rooms “by right” once the overlay zone was in place. And the overlay zone approved by the council therefore means that, while the Atlantis and Ocean View are at least now recognized as being in compliance with the new zoning, they still must seek specific permits for any expansion project. Now, we can only hope that neighbors will not obstruct each and every project that these long-standing businesses need to carry out to compete in what looms as in increasingly competitive market.
But those questions will have to be left to the first time one or both hotels come forward with specific plans. For now – and after seven months of city hearings and other talks — both sides have achieved at least part of what they wanted. The hotel owners have gained the chance to expand as they see their needs, and residents have at least some permit oversight protection to ensure any such growth doesn’t go too far.
That’s what the fine art of compromise — and good government — is supposed to be all about.