Many Mayville residents want answers about a proposed waterfront hotel project in Mayville, and they had the chance to ask them at Monday's Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.
An audience of nearly 50 attendants took the opportunity to make their opinions known after a lengthy presentation from Marty Serena of Chicago-based firm Serena Sturm Architects about what would be Chautauqua Lake's sole lakefront hotel.
Serena explained variances requested by owner James Webb for a hotel located near Lakeside Park, between where the Chautauqua Belle is docked and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Station is located.
Marty Serena of Chicago-based architectural firm Serena Sturm Architects attended the Mayville Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Monday night to explain a proposed five-story hotel project on the water’s edge.
P-J photo by Katie Atkins
The proposed five-story building in Mayville would be Chautauqua Lake’s only waterfront hotel, containing three levels of hotel rooms, two open-air spaces and two levels of residential accommodations.
P-J photo by Katie Atkins
"We hired one of the nation's top architectural firms to design an environmentally-friendly building and we think it is worthy of this site," Webb said.
Serena said he and his firm researched hotels in the area and the benefits of the location, such as the widest view of the lake where the hotel would be built.
The proposed 60-foot-tall building would be composed of several stories of cabin-like rooms.
"We'd like to blur the lines between indoor space and outdoor space," Serena said. "It's really a place that reaches out to the community, rather than being separate from the community. Hopefully the architecture would assist with that."
Simple woodwork and an open facade design would allow natural light and ventilation into the structure, Serena said.
A main entrance, restaurant, rooms and an outdoor deck would take up the first floor, along with rooms on the second. On the third floor, an open-use space would be located, Serena said, while residential room accommodations would be located on the fourth and fifth floors. The roof of the building would be an additional open space.
"Our goal is more ecological than economical, so to speak," Serena said.
After Serena's presentation, James Webb's son Benjamin explained the goal of the hotel project.
"We tried to really look at it from the perspective of how important it would be to the area," he said. "Geographically, this is an extremely significant piece of the world and we wanted to express that. We wanted to make sure that our thought process was a counterpoint to the community, as a launching point for the area and to go after that."
The hotel would be a "fractional ownership," Webb said, which confused audience members.
Although he could not explain what the term means legally, he suggested that the zoning board seek the legal definition of the term.
The board requested further clarification.
Community members, especially residents of Pratt Street, spoke with tension in their voices about the project.
Concerns included noise, traffic, a blocked view of the lake, employment and potential ecological harm to the lake.
"The peace will be gone, all for one family's monetary profit and I want Mr. Webb to think about the risks and hear how we feel about the project," said Pratt Street resident Cathy Broberg, who brought a petition to the board with 16 signatures opposing the project.
Other audience members echoed her sentiment.
The Zoning Board did not take a vote on the project, and must now forward the plans to the county Planning Board for approval.
However, board members spoke of how they would make the process as transparent as possible and include points from both sides of the argument in making a decision.
Side note: Fractional ownership is a method in which several unrelated parties can share in, and mitigate the risk of, ownership of a high-value tangible asset, usually a jet, yacht or piece of resort real estate. It can be done for strictly monetary reasons, but typically there is some amount of personal access involved. One of the main motivators for a fractional purchase is the ability to share the costs of maintaining an asset that will not be used full time by one owner.
This definition was taken from Wikipedia