Proposed Project at 99A Essex Avenue next to Cape Ann’s Marina Resort
Tobin and Drew Dominick, owners of Dominick Holdings LLC, are seeking to permit and install a large indoor heated boat storage building at 99A Essex Avenue, next door to their other property, Cape Ann’s Marina Resort. Currently, a large portion of the boats kept at the Marina in the summer leave Gloucester to be stored elsewhere because neither the Marina nor Gloucester have an indoor facility to accommodate them. This is a unique economic development opportunity for the Marina itself, but also supports jobs and economic prospects in Gloucester’s maritime industry as a whole. With two marine travel lifts and hydraulic trailers Cape Ann’s Marina Resort accommodates in the water and out of the water boat storage for boats as big as 90′ on land and 100’+ in the water. While many boats are stored on trailers and can legally travel over the road to one’s back yard, there are many boats that cannot be trailered. So when it comes to indoor storage for a large boat that cannot travel over the road, the Marina will be able to house those large boats inside because they never have to leave Marina the property. This is unique in today’s world of development. There are less and less areas on our portion of developed coastlines and harbors where such a resource like this can be constructed.
The location of this building is partially on filled tidelands and also resides in a flood zone. The building has been designed to be flood resilient knowing that this area will flood again in the future. The base walls will have areas of water breakaways and will be used as needed. The building will also be able to host solar panels and farm rainwater from the roof – all with the goal of reusing energy and rain water.
A: In another location it would not serve its purpose. The boats that can not go over the road on a trailer and can only travel by water, this is there only option to store their boat inside. There is no location in Gloucester that has indoor boat storage to accommodate this type of vessel. The over the road limitations restrict how they can travel. There are also customers that want to store their boats inside and have no use for a trailer, so they don’t want or need to buy a trailer when the marina equipment can handle their boat.
A: The proposed 45’ door will determine what boats can go inside the building itself. With the inquires that has been presented to us, it appears that the largest boat might be 60’, but even then, it will need to be able to fit under the 45′ door. This will likely include some small sportfishing boats with small towers, and most cruisers up to about 50+/- feet. The tallest boats will be be stored bow to stern in a line down the middle part of the building. Because the height will be lower towards the sides of the building, smaller boats and those with lower heights will be stored along the side. The building will not accommodate a yacht over 70+’ unless it is less than 45’ high out of the water. Nor will it be able to accommodate a Mega yacht at over 150’. The Marina it self can not accommodate Mega yachts, nor can they navigate through the bridges. Currently the Marina owns equipment that can accommodate vessels up to 55′ in length on a trailer and of no more than 35 tons. The goal is to accommodate the customers that currently exist here at the Marina and in Gloucester. If the height of the door and building is less, many boats that have no other alternative for indoor storage in Gloucester will be excluded. The door size drives the rest of the dimensions and the building’s heights.
A: The height of the vessels that are seeking heated indoor boat storage is the driver behind the project. If the door, to get the boats inside is not high enough, then the boats will store elsewhere and not in Gloucester. If the door opening is shorter, the building height can be lower, but then it does not satisfying the need. Smaller trailer-able boats have more options to store inside, and they also travel over the road to store elsewhere in offsite locations. A smaller building with a reduced height will not help us keep our marina customers here in Gloucester for year-round storage and service. It is an opportunity lost for Gloucester’s maritime community.
A: Yes, it could, but we can’t guarantee that right away. We know that out of the 150 year- round employee that we currently employ, some have to go to part time status or get laid off seasonally. Out of the 300 employees we currently employ in the summer months, our intention is to reduce the seasonal layoffs and grow from there. It would be short sighted to promise something we may not be able to follow through with. We are one of the largest employers in the City. Our greatest challenge is to find and retain skilled workers with the largest demand in the marine trades. We were the first marina in Massachusetts, to sign up to host a course partnered with Essex Tech, Yamaha Outboards, and the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association in 2020 for training a hands-on technician class. It was well received and there are more trainings planned for the future. We expect with a facility like this, we will expand our services and hire more skilled workers, but not sure as of now.
A: There is a big demand…from the existing customers of the Marina, other Gloucester and Rockport resident boat owners, mooring residents, neighboring communities and beyond that want to store their vessels inside a heated building. There is a lack of boat storage for boats that cannot travel over the road, to store inside. Our Gloucester or Cape Ann area does not have this type of facility. Inside heated storage protects the vessel from accelerated depreciation of the owner’s investment due to harsh New England weaterh conditions. Indoor storage allows for longer life of materials and systems inside and outside of the vessel. Storing inside in a heated environment is a much better option than shrink wrap.
A: The Cape Ann’s Marina Resort is located at 75 Essex Avenue. The building is proposed on 99A Essex Avenue directly adjacent to 75 Essex Avenue. It will be on the corner of Julian Road and Essex Avenue.
A: The length is 240’ x 143’(width as appears, parallel to Essex Ave).Height at the peak from the top of the slab (which is 10’) is 53’-6”, with the eave height at 49’. Square footage is 34,320. Large overhead door opening height 45’. There will be glass in the front. Two smaller garage doors will be on the side facing the marina side not Julian roadside.
A: A quick answer is why do you want a garage for your car? To protect it from the elements, maintain it’s value. Heated storage reduces winterizing and spring commissioning services to the boat which are not needed if the temperature and airflow is maintained consistently. Hundreds of square feet of shrinkwrap is not needed and does not need to be recycled when removed, also a reduction in servicing costs for the boat owner. Reduces the maintenance and life of canvas, fabrics, curtains, bedding, cushions, mattresses etc.. Otherwise it is typically removed off the boat at the end of the season, storing them elsewhere, then putting them back on the vessel in the spring. Heated storage allows everything to stay in place.
A: Yes, for safety of people, the public and the neighborhood a lighted area is better than dark spaces. The Dominicks have hosted a neighborhood meeting and have listened to the neighbors. There will be low flood like lighting to illuminate around the building, but not shine in through their windows. And there has been no objection.
A: The Dominicks have spent time and at an additional expense on the proposed design for the Essex Ave frontage to be more than just a metal wall. Glass, colors and awning are included to offer an attractive entrance to the waterfront and salt-water lifestyle that happens at the marina as well as for Gloucester. Windows naturally attract interest and especially when it comes to boats. This is a way for the frontage to allow for space, light and activity as folks enter and exit to this more commercial area and waterfront anticipation year-round. The alternative could also be no windows, lighting or awning and a colored metal but not by the Dominicks choice. Solar panels, rainwater collection, efficiency lighting will also be used. The inside of the building will be free span, so there are no upright columns which is necessary for maneuvering boats on trailers.
A: To make the project work operationally and fiscally the land was purchased by Dominick Holdings LLC at 99A Essex for boat storage. Indoor boat storage is in great demand for the Marina customer base. To make it work and not interfere with the existing and abutting property owned by Dominick Unlimited LLC, including a marina, restaurant, hotel and boat yard, each having their own existing requirements and operational traffic flow, fire lanes etc. the building needs to be 100% on 99A Essex Ave and not interfere with 75 Essex Ave existing operations. Having the boats move to and from the building to the boat yard without interfering with traffic flow and safety, the proposed location is the best option and here is why. The two points that drive the size and height of this project is 1. Overall footprint is necessary to make the project economically feasible 2. Operationally, the building must be of a sufficient size and height to accommodate interior movement and storage of the boats that it will house. If the building is too small, it will not support the expense, investment and purpose of offering indoor storage. The existing customers that we cannot be accommodate for indoor winter storage go elsewhere outside of Gloucester. A large portion of boats that store in the summer, service here and either store outside or go elsewhere for indoor storage cannot travel over the road. A building of less size and height, does not meet demand. Even though the buildings foot print is 240’x143’……to make it work there needs to be a straight line “runway” of ~ 130’+ to load large boats on trailers, including equipment, outside the main door. The length required to load into a free span building with minimal turning of the vessel then expands the outside footprint by 130’. Thus, operationally you need 240’+130’ for it to work on the lot. The main door placement, needs to be at the peak of the roof, not the side to accommodate the heights of boats seeking interior storage and for ease of function to move boats throughout the building. Once inside the boats then are placed end to end in a straight line, side by side. Turning boats, once they are inside is not easy and has physical restrictions. The main door placement was chosen to be least intrusive to the neighborhood and Essex Ave. Placement closer to the salt marsh and coastal buffer zones raises more environmental concerns as well as it not being functional to get in and out of the building.
A: The marina has always been an extension of our Gloucester Harbor. When Gloucester could not offer certain services, storage and visitation due to permitting restrictions and designated areas – outsiders were not always welcome or accommodated. Over time this has drastically changed. The Marina, going into the 49th season, and all our shore side services, have always accommodated and serviced our Gloucester visitor-based economy by land and sea. Especially with emergency hauls and service, a hurricane hole when the weather turns, fuel and supplies year-round, working with marine contractors and the coast guard and the list goes on. We will continue to get people here to spend money in shops, restaurants, grocery stores etc. and even as a destination for indoor boat storage.
A: No. And interestingly enough not sure what type of business that could be built on this zoned EB (Extensive Business) lot that would not cause more traffic.
A: No. The Annisquam river is a maintained Federal waterway for the purpose of commercial and recreation use. A new boat storage facility will not have an impact on traffic that already exists. The boats are either already stored at the Marina, or they get hauled here, stored here outside or get hauled over the road mostly outside of Gloucester.
A: The building has been designed and approved by Gloucester’s Conservation Commission, and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as a flood resilient building. Flood vents are in the design to accommodate such flooding, allowing waters to come into the building and then recede when the tides go out.
A: Yes, solar panels, efficiency lighting and rainwater stowage has been planned by choice, not as a requirement. The building is required to be designed as a flood resilient building with flood vents around the perimeter. When the water reaches a certain height, the water then comes into the building.
A: A wide variety of Gloucester businesses and our surrounding towns will benefit from this facility. Gloucester has invested a lot of money, even just recently, on making our City of Gloucester waterfront more inviting and friendly to recreational boaters. For example, the Harbor Master Building project. While the fishing industry has had its struggles, Gloucester made the move to invest and up their support for the recreational boating market. Gloucester’s waterfront, public or private, relies heavily on its neighbors on the water. Services, resources and accommodations abound. The Cape Ann’s Marina Resort is a very important extension to Gloucester’s working waterfront. Offering services needed by the boater that the City can’t provide. The Marina offers safe havens and resources to the hundreds of boats that live on moorings in the summer too. Fuel, gas, pump out services, visiting boaters, marine repairs, ice, bait and more. Other small businesses benefit from the boaters by visiting restaurants, staying overnight, shopping, vacationing and more. Just like other destinations having a tourism economy, Gloucester is no different. Cape Ann’s Marina Resort is a host to many small businesses. Small fishing, diving and sightseeing vessels run their charter businesses from the Marina. Subcontractors, whether they are solo, running their business out of a truck, offer parts and services not offered by the Marina itself. And they rely on the marina to stay in business. This will continue and also increase with more and more technology and specialties that are being added in the boating industry. Suppliers like Roses, Voyager Marine and surrounding servicing marina sources all benefit and rely on each other to keep our maritime community going within our area. Our small businesses make their living relying on local and visiting boaters. If we do not have resources here there might not be a reason to come. The proposed storage facility allows Cape Ann’s Marina to keep up with the times and remain viable and available as a resource for many small businesses.
A: Yes, boats need service, storage and repair year-round. Often our customers do not put their boats in the water in the summer because of a job, illness, death, divorce, financial hardship, traveling etc. We store boats year-round and will continue to use the building as such.
A: The Dominick’s are able to make this project possible through the benefits offered through and the SBA (Small Business Administration). Due to the nature of the purchase of the land and opportunity, the SBA wanted to help fund the project using their programs to grow small businesses that qualify. Economic developments such as indoor heated boat storage that create growth and opportunity for small business is one of the reasons SBA exists. The Dominick’s and the project qualify and need a different ownership to make it work. Both properties need each other to make this viable as well.
A: No this won’t be the highest building in Gloucester, there are plenty of other buildings that are taller. The masts from the sailboats are a lot taller than the proposed peak height at 53’6”.
A: Three shadow studies have proven this is not the case. The Dominicks used a rare piece of technology with the architecture company, Troika, to create a 3d model of the Marina and close neighborhood as part of the design process and future renovations. The equipment was placed onsite and millions of laser points captured the property. From there models of future buildings and objects can then be placed and designed. This highly sophisticated technology shows real time shadowing. It is important when looking at the models, and at the time of year and time of day, to look at all the shadowing in the neighborhood and how one house shadows another in a 12-24 hour cycle. Most of the neighborhood shadowing is already existing and comes from existing neighbors. Adding a building next door will also cast shadows at early mornings on the short days of the year, and so does every other building in the neighborhood. There is a very small percentage of time within the day and within 365 days of the year that the immediate abutters will be affected. Also to note, is the distance from the edge of the building to the neighborhood abutting homes. It is approximately 85’ with the setbacks and Julian Road included. All the presentations are posted on the City’s website. The Dominicks have also offered to answer additional questions or show the models if there are further questions after watching the presentations.
A: The 99A Essex Ave property is zoned EB (Extensive Business), this does not allow for housing development. EB allows for only certain uses. Secondly, the property contains some filled tideland. This also has restrictions as to what can be built on filled tide lands, requiring further permitting through DEP Waterways usage/Chapter 91. “Marine related use” on filled tidelands qualifies and supports a Chapter 91 use. The project has passed through and been approved by the Gloucester Zoning Board, the Gloucester Planning Board, the Gloucester Conservation Commission, and the state’s DEP Waterways.
A: The Dominicks have plans to redevelop that waterfront building within the means of Chapter 91 usages and permits. Currently they need to fund other capital projects before funds are available to renovate that building. Soon you will see the seawall along the Marina main parking area be repaired. The permit process to “maintain and existing seawall” is still “in process” over 3.5 years thus far, to fix that part of the seawall. The seawall and boardwalk area are also a required to be maintained as “public access”. Therefore, the project must include repair and a renovated public access walkway in order to qualify. The project is estimated in the millions. While state and local seawalls and dredging can be funded by grants and federal funds, private entities, like the Marinas, do not have such options or financial resources.
How you can support this economic development for Gloucester, for our Blue Economy and the boaters in need.
Stay on top of the project and help support the project, your support is important right now:
The letters of support can be sent to the City Clerk at the following email or mailing address: City Council c/o Joanne Senos, City Clerk – firstname.lastname@example.org Please cc: Tobin Dominick email@example.com and Deborah Eliason firstname.lastname@example.org and mail to: City Council
c/o Joanne Senos
9 Dale Avenue
Gloucester, MA 01930
Topics to address in your support letters…
We suggest reading the Executive Summary (above) of the project for topics to expand on as it relates to your personal opinions, backgrounds, Gloucester and its economy, the marine industry locally, nationally and internationally etc.. We appreciate any support to our existing businesses here as well as efforts made by the Dominicks and their staff.
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Update as of 1/22/2021
As a follow up to requests from the previous P&D meeting, we met with the P&D committee on 1/20. We presented additional shadowing models and answered the committee request for such models. We presented static times at the two equinox’s and solstices. In addition, we showed requested dates by the councilors and went through the moving cloud point technology to answer their questions. We also needed to clarify how the actual height elevations because we made a mistake and interpreted the eave elevation incorrectly. At the previous site visit the eave elevation we showed was 40’ and wanted to explain and tell the committee that is should have been at 49’. Thus resulting in an additional site visit. The second site visit is planned for January 30th starting at 9am. If you are interested in the presentation click here to the city website. If you would like to attend the site visit, you may make your request to the P&D Committee Chair, Val Gilman. 6-7 of the City Councilors where in attendance as Val reported. We welcome any questions regarding the project. There has been a lot of mis-information on social media about this project, so please get in touch if we can help address. Letters of support are strongly encouraged and there is no deadline date yet, until we move forward to a City Council hearing. Follow the below information on how to properly submit your letter via email or likewise. Also more information that has gone on record can be found on the City Council webpage.
Update as of 1/7/2021
We met with P & D (Planning & Development) last night to follow up on the site visit and present answers to questions that came up at the site visit. We also spent time reviewing the shadow study and answering questions as well as went through the legal component of the voting that will occur. As a result some of the Councilors wanted to explore two more shadow models. We will present these models at the next P & D meeting as a continuance of the 1/6/21, on Wednesday, January 20th. This will also move our hearing with the City Council until, Tuesday, January 26th. Of which we would like you to tune in to show your support. Letters of support are now welcome until Friday, January 22, so please read below how to submit your letter via email below.
Update as of 12/20/2020
The site visit took take place on December 10, 2020. A series of questions that came up at the site visit will be addressed at the next P& D (Planning & Development), a sub committee of the City Council, meeting on January 6th, 2021. This will then lead to a City Council meeting on January 12, 2021. This is the last of the permitting in regards to this project, as you will see below the steps and approvals the project has received thus far.
The City Council will be voting on a “Special Permit” for height and usage property, it is a public hearing and all are welcome. Letters of support are being accepted now.
Update as of 12/7/2020
This project since the last update has been impacted by Covid-19 restrictions as well a pending condition with DEP that has now been fully approved and then again approved by Gloucester Conservation Commission.
P & D(Planning & Development), a sub committee of the City Council, heard the full proposal on Zoom in May 2020, and now they are ready to resume with a site visit.
As of 5/1/2020
The proposed project passed The Zoning Board of Appeals at the end of 2019.
Site Plan review took place on 2/20/2020 and the project passed.
The Conservation Commission hearing opened on 2/19/20 and passed on 3/4/2020.
P & D (Planning & Development), a sub committee of the City Council, on May 6th and then City Council TBD.
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By Deb Eliason, Eliason Law Office
CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL PERMIT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Cape Ann Marina and Resort (“Marina”) has been operating out of its property on Essex Avenue since 1972. It is a family owned and operated business focusing on the needs of local residents and visitors and is a destination by land or sea and a second home for many of its boaters. It is a full service marina with year round boat storage in and out of the water, a fuel dock, pump out, boat launching and hauling services, repair service, retail boat parts, engine and boat sales. It is also home to many small and large fishing, diving and sightseeing charter businesses again hosting many visitors and impacting our city’s tourism economy. It is an amenity to the City that draws many visitors that utilize not only the Marina facilities, but also seek out and patronize other businesses in the City. Because it operates as a year-round facility, its fiscal impact can be felt all year.
The Marina intends to construct an approximately 34,320 square foot indoor, climate-controlled boat storage facility (the “Project”) at 99A Essex Avenue (the “Property”). This proposed use is consistent with the uses allowed in the Extensive Business Zoning District (“EB District”), which favors businesses servicing regional clientele. It is also in keeping with the existing mix of commercial uses in this area and the Marina’s Chapter 91 license and location on the riverfront. The proposed building will allow the Marina to store boats both large and small in an indoor, temperature-controlled boat storage facility. Such facilities are highly desirable and those facilities that are able to accommodate large boats are scarce. Establishing one in Gloucester will likely encourage many boaters to seek out the Cape Ann area for their marina and boating activities.
The building has been purposely designed, at greater expense, to minimize the visual impact of the height at the street level. Windows along the streetscape of both Essex Avenue and Julian Road bring the building down to a human scale. The awning along Essex Avenue also acts to visually lower the height of the building by dissecting it two-thirds of the way up the face of the building. Furthermore, the color and materials are designed to blend with the other buildings on the Marina property.
The Marina, and its associated businesses, is a large employer in the City, employing approximately 300 people during the Summer season and 150 people during the off season. Keeping its business current within the marine industry is necessary for it to continue to employ people in the numbers that it does today.
The Marina requests Special Permits from the City Council to allow the new building height of 55’ in excess of 35’, to allow for marine related storage use and for relief from the lowlands requirements. See Zoning Ordinance, §§3.1.6 (b), 2.3.4(13) and 5.5.
Special Permits Should Be Granted
The Project meets the six criteria set forth in Gloucester Zoning Ordinance (GZO”) section 1.8.3. Social, economic, and community needs are served by Project because the proposed use is consistent with the uses allowed in the EB District and consistent with the existing mix of commercial uses in this area and the Marina’s Chapter 91 license and location on the riverfront. The Project will likely encourage many boaters to seek out the Cape Ann area for their marina and boating activities. This will also create economic opportunities for other Gloucester businesses and will allow the Marina to continue to employ people in the numbers that it does today. Traffic flow and safety is preserved and there will be no new traffic flow on Essex Avenue or Julian Road. All traffic and activity will be directed toward Essex Avenue and away from the residential neighborhood to the west of Julian Road. Utilities and other public services will be adequate to serve the Property. On-site utilities will be updated as necessary and will be adequate to meet the needs of the new boat storage facility. The Project is consistent with Neighborhood character and social structure created by the existing mix of residential and commercial uses in this area of Essex Avenue. The proposed building will present a neater and more orderly appearance to the area along Essex Avenue abutting the residential area. In addition to moving a lot of the noise and activity that now takes place in close proximity to the residential neighbors along Julian Road inside the building, the building will also provide a buffer between the residential neighborhood and the other activities taking place on the Marina property. The proposed building will be constructed so as to maintain the Quality of the natural environment. The environmentally sensitive areas on the Property have been taken into consideration in the siting of the proposed building, which will be located entirely outside of the 100’ buffer from the Coastal Bank and only partially within the 200’ Riverfront Area. The building was substantially reduced in size from the original proposal so that the front yard setbacks along Essex Avenue and Julian Road could both be met minimizing its impact on the abutting residential neighborhood. The potential fiscal impact is positive. Establishing this type of boat storage facility in Gloucester will make Gloucester a destination for many boaters that might otherwise go elsewhere. More visitors to Gloucester creates more economic opportunities for all Gloucester businesses and the City as a whole. Furthermore, the new building will likely increase the assessed value of the Property and add commercial tax revenue to the City’s tax rolls. This Project is a good example of the blue economy, which is a priority of not only the City but also the State.
Pursuant to GZO § § 5.5.2 and 5.5.3., the special permit for relief from the lowlands requirements is warranted because the proposed structure, a commercial boat storage facility, will not pose any hazard to the health or safety to the occupants thereof. None of hazardous criteria stated Section 5.5.3 exist under the Project.
Lastly, the criteria discussed above pursuant GZO § 1.8.3 make it clear that the Property is suitable for a boat storage facility and entitled to a special permit under GZO
Accordingly, the requested special permits should be granted by the City Council. The proposed boat storage facility falls squarely within the uses contemplated in the EB district and by Chapter 91, which also governs the use of this Property. As a port city, it is important that the City support its marine oriented businesses – the blue economy has become a focus both locally and on the state level. That is especially important when that business helps to establish the City as a destination year round – which helps all businesses in the City to prosper. The requested permits will allow the Marina to add an important amenity to its facilities that will help it remain a viable and successful business that is one of the larger employers in the City.