March 18, 2013

Wells considers drawing the line on lodging

Some propose a moratorium on new units to give the town time to develop a growth plan

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Wells lodging units

Should Wells pass a moratorium limiting new lodging units along Route 1?

Yes

No

View Results

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Barefoot Cottage Homes, well under construction in Wells, is among the many lodging developments that garnered town approval during the past decade but now have officials wondering if a moratorium on such projects is long overdue.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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The Cottages at Summer Village are among the large lodging developments that pose a dilemma for the town of Wells, bringing in needed property tax revenue but stressing local services and adding to traffic congestion on Route 1.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

THAT’S A LOT OF NEW LODGING

Route 1 area lodging unit complexes approved since 2003

Beach Dreams: 216 cottages, 5 hotel rooms

SeaGlass Village: 175 cottages, 29 hotel rooms

Summer Village: 247 cottages

Barefoot Cottages: 68 hotel rooms

Ocean Mist: 77 cottages

Hampton Inn: 87 hotel rooms

Harbor Woods: 7 cottages (never built)

Seagull: 55 cottages, 12 hotel rooms

Cottages Mill Farm: 15 cottages (never built)

Compass Point: 24 hotel rooms (pre-construction)

"Traffic is such an enormous problem," Foley said. "Route 1 is basically a parking lot in the summer."

Foley said there is also a fairness issue to address.

Lodging facilities that rent no more than three rooms or cottages are exempt from licensing by the Department of Health and Human Services and are not required to pay the state lodging tax. The associations or property management companies at the seasonal cottage villages say they don't rent units, instead leaving that responsibility to individual unit owners, said Jodine Adams, the town's code enforcement officer.

"One of the problems we're having is developers are using our density for hotels of 20 (units) per acre, but marketing them as residential condos," Foley said. "They're using our motel density, but they're not acting as a motel. There's an inequity there that we need to address through an ordinance change."

Foley said he also is concerned about the effect too many new lodging units could have on existing hotels and motels.

"If we let it go unchecked, at some point you may impact that competition," Foley said.

Luke Guerrette, vice president of the Wells Chamber of Commerce board of directors and owner of Garnsey Bros. Rentals, said many of the new summer cottages are purchased by people who previously rented houses. So far there have been plenty of others to come in and rent beach houses, he said.

"I think the demand will always be there," he said, noting the town's beaches and proximity to Boston. "At some point we could become saturated, but right now people are still coming."

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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Today's poll: Wells lodging units

Should Wells pass a moratorium limiting new lodging units along Route 1?

Yes

No

View Results