Newfane sets Four Columns meeting
NEWFANE -- A bid to reopen the historic, sprawling Four Columns Inn property appears to be moving forward.
Four Columns developers have applied to the Newfane Development Review Board for a zoning permit, and the board has set a public hearing on the matter for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 23.
Also, the state Department of Health has conducted a preliminary inspection of the West Street facility.
In paperwork submitted to the town, developers make their intentions clear: "Please keep in mind that the inn and restaurant operated continuously for over 40 years, from 1965 to 2013, and the new owner seeks to reopen it and operate it in the same manner."
The Four Columns, a stately, 138-acre property in historic Newfane Village, dates to 1832. Aside from its pedigree as a vacation spot -- Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger reportedly celebrated a birthday there in the early 1980s -- the establishment also is seen as a key part of the Newfane economy.
But the inn closed in May 2013, and Peoples United Bank subsequently foreclosed on Pfander Realty LLC's mortgage on the property. At a public auction in October, Peoples United took control of the parcel with an $850,000 bid.
There was no additional news until last month, when Newfane Board of Liquor Control granted a liquor license for a company called Four Columns Acquisition LLC.
State records show that company is based in Stamford, Conn. Its manager is Charles Mallory, who is founder and managing partner of Clearview Investment Management Inc., a private real estate investment firm in Stamford.
The company has not yet commented on the Four Columns deal. On the zoning application, Four Columns Acquisition LLC is listed as the "pending" owner of the property.
Newfane's zoning administrator initially denied the company's application because the Four Columns proposal requires a site-plan review by the Development Review Board.
In a brief addendum to the application, the company summarizes the scope of the proposed business.
"The inn originally has 16 guest rooms; renovations in 2005 reduced the number of rooms to 15," the document says. "The dining room has seating for 75 people. The largest number of employees on a single shift is eight: One front desk, two chefs, one dishwasher and four wait staff."
Those numbers figure into a town zoning requirement for parking spaces. According to the applicant's calculations, the revamped Four Columns would require 46 parking spaces.
Documents cite a mix of paved spaces and a patch of lawn that could hold at least 18 additional cars, as well as 13 spaces at the neighboring Newfane Congregational Church. In the Four Columns application, a church trustee gives written permission for spaces on the north side of the church to be used by the inn, with exceptions for Sunday mornings and "whenever there is a memorial service or some other large function (wedding, etc.) at the church."
"In return for this, the inn will pay for the plowing and sanding of this parking area," the application says.
There also is additional parking on West Street and Church Street.
In addition to seeking town approval, Four Columns Acquisition also has applied for licenses to operate both the hotel and restaurant through the Vermont Department of Health.
Al Burns, the department's chief public health inspector, said officials conducted a preliminary inspection of the property June 16. The department is awaiting further information from the developer, Burns said Monday.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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