IN THE ZONE
NEWPORT CITY – Bill Stenger, co-owner and president of Jay Peak Resort, the driving force behind efforts to renovate downtown Newport, met with the Newport City Council Monday to report on his progress.Some residents at that meeting expressed concern that plans for the new Renaissance Block, which will replace the Spates Block on Main Street, won't meet the form-based code for setbacks.Zoning Administrator Paul Dreher said that Stenger, architects and others working on the Spates Block consult with him regularly over any changes, and to date they have stuck by the form-based code.The code does not allow for gray areas, he said. "Everything is in compliance. If it's out of compliance, we don't even entertain it." The setback requirement, Dreher explained, means that after four floors of building, the fifth floor must be laid 12 feet back from the edge of the front of the building. After two more floors, what would be the seventh floor must again be placed another 12 feet back. There are also some setback requirements on the back of the building, but not as much. The current architectural drawing allows for an open area in front of penthouse apartments on the top floor, which meets the requirements of the form-based code, Dreher said.Stenger said the deal to purchase the Spates Block should be accomplished by the end of the month. Developers believe the block can be one floor less than originally anticipated. The building will have 100 underground parking spaces, retail space, professional office suites and extended suites.Developers also continue to move forward with the ANC Biotech research facility at the former Bogner Plant. When completed, the building will be 75,000 square feet and have a research tower. Stenger plans to start the permit process next month. Developers hope to begin construction by mid-summer and finish in 14 months.Stenger is also talking with Burlington developer Tony Pomerleau on the purchase of the Waterfront Plaza property. Developers plan to tear down the complex and replace it with a hotel, conference center and retail space, and a boardwalk. Parking will be at ground level, underneath the building.Stenger said he is well aware the shopping center currently has establishments that are vital to area residents and he said he will make sure each has a place to relocate during renovations. Diane Peel is worried there won’t be enough public space at the Waterfront Plaza site for such things as picnics. Stenger said there will be a boardwalk, room on the side of the complex and access to other public areas. However, Peel wasn’t convinced and said that someone removed benches on Main Street. The answer to the concern came from Mayor Paul Monette.“The benches were asked to be removed by the merchants,” said Monette. “We honored what the merchants asked for.”City clerk and treasurer James Johnson, who lived in Newport during the 1950s, said the renovations are something that has been a long time coming. Later during the meeting, the council approved the 2013-2014 municipal budget with a 2.67 increase from the current year. The total amount the city needs to raise is $4,338,230.98.