A proposal to transform the has drawn criticism from neighbors and residents concerned about rezoning the residential property to allow for a more robust commercial use.
Tricia Perez Kennealy, the Lexington resident behind the project, intends to seek Town Meeting approval of commercial development spot zoning for the residential properties at 2027 and 2013 Massachusetts Ave. and develop a 22-room inn with a 14-tabletop restaurant/lounge using the existing structures.
In response to those plans, a group of residents and neighbors has organized around shared concerns about safety, traffic, parking, noise, lighting, wetlands and other issues that could arise if the town grants spot zoning and the current proposal goes forward.
The two sides came together last Friday, Dec. 2, at the League of Women Voters' First Friday Forum, titled “.”
Kennealy provided an overview of her plans, and responded to a handful of questions.
A trained chef with a background in finance, Kennealy wants to restore the Dana Home, a former assisted living residence, and the single-family home and barn on the adjacent property to create the kind of upscale inn/restaurant that appeals to tourists and families in town visiting relatives for a special occasion.
The neighborhood group, which calls itself Lexington Neighbors for Responsible Growth, distributed a six-page statement of issues and concerns, many of which relate to the proposal’s scope. “The intensity of the currently proposed hotel-restaurant-lounge operation overburdens the size of the property,” the statement says.
Forum attendees asked Kennealy about parking plans, parking signs, whether the current plans are an all-or-nothing proposal and why she defines the proposal as an inn when anything with more than 15 rooms is considered a hotel under town regulations.
Regarding plans for posting “No Parking” signs on Mass Ave and meeting the required number of parking spaces, Kennealy said her team would work with town boards to develop plans officials consider appropriate.
According to Kennealy, the 22-room, 14-tabletop proposal is the business plan makes sense financially for her and her husband, who purchased the property with these plans in mind.
As for whether 22 rooms makes it a hotel, Kennealy said she believes that distinction comes down to the style of hospitality. “If you want to call it a hotel, you can call it a hotel, but I’m going to call it an inn,” she said.
Kennealy and her team have made the rounds to several town boards and organizations and the concept was well received by members of the local business community and regional tourism industry, who said an inn could enhance Lexington’s appeal as a destination and promote economic development.
Addressing the LWV forum crowd last Friday, Planning Board Chairman Richard Canale explained that, while his board would consider the use as an inn and as a restaurant to be acceptable at the Dana Home location, it is also working with the applicant to address concerns and make sure “whatever goes to Town Meeting is the optimal intensity.”