However, the architect that Leone has retained, Douglas Trees of Hamilton, said that Leone and his team would work with neighbors on parking and with concerns about refrigeration and a loading dock.
Another speaker at the hearing was Bill Harris, a veteran of waterfront issues here, who said he is concerned that restaurant guests might displace those who come to the riverfront to patronize boating activities.
Harris, who said he was representing the Friends of Newburyport (a citizens’ group organized several decades ago), called for the city and for private interests to work to develop solutions for more parking.
He quoted a recent study that said parking in the lot of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church off Green Street might be considered as a off-site lot for visitors.
Harris, who stated he was also representing a group called the Newburyport Chapter 91 Citizens’ Committee, offered a six-page, 25-point package of comments regarding uses of the building at 40 Merrimac St. and for the acreage.
Several speakers at the hearing said they could support the restaurant proposal if alterations in plans are made.
Doug Locy, co-chair of the Waterfront Trust, said his organization is working with Leone to ensure that a walkway is maintained from Merrimac Street to the river.
And some residents, including Peter Fitzsimmons and Bill Taplin, said the opening of a restaurant in an empty building could result in a gain for the city.
But they said they would like to learn more about how the venue would mesh with other developments in that part of the riverfront.
Others asked how the commercial project proposed by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority nearby would fit into the scenario of a large restaurant taking its share of parking places.
Indeed, the discussion of the Ale House application appeared to revive issues that have come up in recent months: The city is drawing more visitors, it needs to provide adequate parking and coordinated planning should take place so that the result provides a win-win situation for those of both commercial and residential interests.