PROVINCETOWN — Following a tense zoning board of appeals hearing on April 6, Robin Reid, the attorney for the owners of the Foxberry Inn at 29 Bradford St. Extension, withdrew their application to add a third floor with six hotel rooms and a half-story addition to the adjacent manager’s quarters. The withdrawal means the project was not officially denied by the ZBA.
Matt Verge and Dan Spinello have owned the Foxberry Inn since 2019. The hotel is in the Residential-1 zone, and the proposed expansion of the two buildings drew pushback from neighbors. More than 120 pages of comments were filed with the ZBA.
Reid opened the discussion by arguing that more overnight accommodations are needed in town.
“Hotels, inns, and guest houses are the keystones of our tourist economy,” she said. “The Foxberry Inn won’t survive with just the existing 12 rooms, and there’s no way to increase the number of guest rooms without increasing the scale of the building.”
Condominium owners at neighboring Harbor Hill and Herring Cove Village sent letters and spoke at the hearing against the plan, saying the buildings would block their light, spoil their views, and, ultimately, lower their property values.
Harbor Hill condominium owner Carolyn Westmark said she and her neighbors have frequently supported past proposals from the Foxberry’s owners. “The only reason I’m here is because there is no doubt that they are going to block my view, and view is valuable to us,” Westmark said. “I’m not a wealthy person and cannot afford to buy real estate in Provincetown.”
Her condo has been her “one opportunity,” Westmark said, adding that she and fellow owners have made great efforts to refurbish the building and their units.
Westmark said she plans to live in the condo year-round once she retires. “This is my dream,” she said. “To lose my view would destroy my dream, so I’m asking you to consider that.”
Reid argued that obstruction of view was not a reason to deny a request for relief. “I understand, they don’t like it,” Reid said. “I wouldn’t like it either.”
Zoning board member Peter Okun brought up complaints from neighbors about spotlights being aimed directly at their windows by Foxberry owner Dan Spinello following a February hearing on a request to extend the inn’s liquor license. While the ZBA granted a request for an outdoor bar and permission to serve drinks to guests and their friends, several neighbors had been outspoken in their opposition.
Marcia Ferrigno, who lives at Herring Cove Village, wrote to the board saying she emailed Spinello to ask that the lighting be changed back to its previous setting. She included Spinello’s response, in which he said he had removed the shades on a couple of the lights “in hopes that a neighbor such as yourself would initiate a conversation.”
“I am open to continuing a conversation rather than removing more shades,” Spinello wrote, “but it has to be a two-way street.”
Joanne Ayoub, a condo owner and trustee at Herring Cove, said the spotlight was kept on all day. “In addition, the Foxberry Inn owners have hung six different sets of wind chimes along with a cowbell across the perimeter of the parking lot bordering the edge of Herring Cove Village,” Ayoub said.
Condo owner Harold Wetterland said the spotlights were put on the roof and along the fence near the complex.
Reid told the board that Spinello had “apologized profusely” for his behavior. “Dan wanted to engage the neighbors and went about it in a bad way,” she said.
Lawyer Christopher Somma, representing Harbor Hill Condominiums, said the inn owners seem to have a history of “act, apologize; act, apologize; act, apologize.”
“They’re looking to steal value and steal view from their neighbors to put money in their pocket,” Somma said. When the neighbors protest, they shine lights into their windows, set up wind chimes, and generally harass them, Somma said. Then they apologize.
“That behavior should not be condoned,” the attorney said.
Reid noted the tension between the Foxberry Inn owners and the abutters. “I’m just going to say this bluntly: behavior is not a criterion for these applications,” Reid said to the board. “You don’t have to like them to approve this.”
Board chair Jeremy Callahan said the board does need to believe that when a special permit is granted the rules will be followed. “This is a special permit,” he said. “The neighbors aren’t looking for anything special. You are.”
Callahan and other board members said they were most troubled by the mass of the project. Parking was also an issue. The project would have needed a waiver of parking requirements to allow only 15 spots instead of 20, which some board members believed would not be adequate.
After 90 minutes of discussion, Reid asked whether the board would be amenable to her taking the application to expand the inn off the table and moving forward solely with the expansion of the manager’s quarters. Members Robert Nee and Okun said they “would not be amenable” to that proposal, while member Quinn Taylor was undecided.
“I’m still in trouble,” said Reid, who then withdrew the entire application. She did not indicate whether it would be resubmitted — a possibility that remains open because the board did not officially deny the project. Reid did not return a call seeking comment.
At its Feb. 16 meeting, the ZBA approved a liquor license expansion for the Foxberry, allowing an outdoor bar and service to hotel guests and their guests from noon to 9 p.m. The board will review its written draft of that decision on April 20.