DERBY â€“ An upscale inn proposed for the Village of Derby Line is getting wide-spread support, although there are some concerns due to its location.
At a Derby Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing Monday, about 20 people turned out to voice their thoughts on the proposal by Paula Fiorenza and Fritz Halbedl, who own the historic mansion located on Main Street.
During the meeting, a couple of individuals who live next to the home said they did not want a restaurant in a residential area and they were concerned about the potential for additional noise and headlights in their homes at night.
The area is zoned residential with conditional use for a village inn. A village inn is defined as having a restaurant and bar to serve the public.
Some people also expressed concerns that the proposed inn will have a bar, however the owners say they will only serve upscale beer, such as that served at Oktoberfest, and a selection of wines. Fiorenza said she would definitely not over-serve her guests, that the establishment would attract a certain clientele, and she would keep a close eye on all operations. The couple plan to hire a staff and will hold culinary workshops and some small events.
Dick and Elizabeth Fletcher run the bed and breakfast next door. Dick Fletcher said he wants the number of seats in the restaurant scaled back. The owners say they plan up to 58 seats, which includes ten seats at the bar.
Jim Burton, who lives across the street, read a letter from his wife Paula that raised concerns about headlights in their home. She also wrote that the proposed use is not compatible with the culture of the area and she had other concerns.
Fletcher and others said the area is for single family homes.
Several in the audience expressed enthusiasm about the proposal. Derby Line Trustees Keith Beadle and Perry Hunt spoke in favor of the plan.
Beadle noted that the village has a number of very large, old buildings, and many are now empty. He explained how the trustees have heard complaints from neighbors about these abandoned properties and they are concerned about the empty buildings deteriorating. He said he is pleased that someone is willing to take care of the huge home and make something nice for the village.
Hunt called the proposal a good use for the property, which has about three acres of land.
Beadle reminded everyone that the there was a vote a number of years ago and the majority supported a restaurant at that location.
Don Buschman, a long-time village resident, spoke in favor of the plan. He talked about a restaurant and bar that was open on Main St. in Derby Line years ago, and said there was never a problem that he could recall. He said that it would be a benefit to have a restaurant right in the village.
The owners are asking for the permit to allow the inn to be open seven days a week, but plan to start with dinner Thursday through Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
The ZBA recessed the meeting and will do a site visit in two weeks.
The owners have extensive experience in culinary arts and restaurant management and ownership. On the question of cost, Fiorenza explained that prices will be reasonable, noting knowledge of area demographics. The couple have already paid for the property and do not have rent, mortgage, or loans through banks to worry about.
An addition of about 1,000 square feet for bathrooms is planned, which will likely not be noticed from the road and will match the faÃ§ade. All architecture and renovations will be period correct, Paula explained.
The restaurant will serve items with an emphasis on healthy eating while using as many local products as possible. The Derby Line Village Inn will have rooms available on the second floor and the owners will live on the third floor.
The couple plans to partially retire in Derby Line. Paula said Derby Line reminds her husband of Innsbruck, Austria, where he lived previously.
Once the plans go through ZBA, the couple will go before the planning commission.