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Swampscott making room for an inn

COURTESY PHOTO
The Swampscott area is shown in the above map. 

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT Town officials are proposing a zoning change that could bring a hotel or inn to Swampscott and make it more of a tourist destination.

Town Meeting members will be asked in May to amend zoning bylaws that would create a tourist lodging overlay district, and modify where hotels, motels, inns and a bed and breakfast are allowed by special permit.

“The zoning bylaw has significant restrictions in place, making the creation of tourist lodging difficult in Swampscott and denies Swampscott’s history as a tourist and vacation location,” reads the Town Meeting warrant article. “Although Swampscott’s social and economic realities have shifted since its hotel era, the lodging establishment industry still has the potential to not only provide additional customers to our local commercial base but also bring in additional revenues, such as meal and rooms tax.”

Today, zoning in Swampscott only allows for hotels, motels and inns with a special permit in commercial/business (B-1, B-2 and B-3) districts. A bed and breakfast is allowed in residential districts (A-1, A-2, A-3) and the business district (B-1). There is currently only one bed and breakfast in town on Humphrey Street and there are no hotels, motels or inns, according to Peter Kane, director of community development.

The zoning bylaw change would allow for hotels, inns and a bed and breakfast with a special permit in the residential districts (A-1, A-2 and A-3) and the commercial districts (B-1, B-2 and B-3). Motels would be allowed with a special permit in the commercial districts (B-2 and B-3), according to town documents.

The properties allowed in the tourist lodging overlay district include Humphrey Street, the train depot area and coastal areas at various points such as Little’s Point, Kane said.

Kane said he doesn’t know that hotels would be seen in Swampscott, but on a smaller scale, inns and bed and breakfasts are more possible. But, he said a hotel would make great sense out near water.

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Swampscott has had hotels in its history, but the two largest ones, New Ocean House Hotel and  Hotel Preston, burned down in 1969 and 1957 respectively. A motel, built where Hotel Preston used to be, was wrecked in the blizzard of 1978, according to town historian Lou Gallo.

Kane said the overlay district identifies more areas where the lodgings are possible.

“Swampscott was a tourist destination and vacation spot,” Kane said. “We need to make sure that we’re taking advantage of our natural resources and proximity to the ocean by encouraging developments like these destinations.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

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