Planning Commission recommends 3-story hotel restriction, elimination of motels

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — It appears there will be no four-story hotels popping up in Lincoln Township, after residents spoke up at a Planning Commission meeting Monday night.

Commissioners held a public hearing to consider amending regulations applicable to motels and hotels within the zoning district along Red Arrow Highway.

The ordinance originally set for the commercial mixed-use area called for a maximum height of two and a half stories for hotels along much of Red Arrow (but not including the zoning district closest to the I-94 interchange). The amendment up for discussion involved pushing the maximum height for potential hotels to four stories.

At least 10 residents voiced opposition to having a four-story hotel in the district, which led to a lengthy discussion among commissioners. The Planning Commission decided to send a recommendation to the township’s Board of Trustees to amend the ordinance to allow for a three-story hotel special use. The special use portion of the recommendation ensures a public hearing for future projects that meet the amended criteria.

Lincoln Township resident Bob Elliott was there on behalf of the Ridge Road Neighborhood Association. Elliott had submitted a letter to the commission stating the association preferred that hotel remain in the highway district.

“I think our association will be happy with the outcome tonight,” Elliott said. “Limiting it to three stories in the commercial mixed use is consistent with past hotel construction. We just didn’t want to see it go higher.”

Lincoln Township Trustee Marc Florian, who also serves on the Planning Commission, opposes any amendment to the ordinance.

“Do we want more hotels along that strip?” he asked commissioners. “If we did allow this, I certainly don’t think it should be four stories.”

Planning Commission Chairman Mike Freehling said the amendments came up after the Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel on Red Arrow Highway was rezoned.

“What brought it to light was the Fairfield Inn,” he said. “We realized when that came in we had an issue with the definition of hotel and motel.”

Developers of the Fairfield Inn were able to get the site rezoned to highway commercial due to an issue with its elevator. The site was originally zoned commercial mixed use on the portion nearest to Red Arrow, which restricted the structure to two and a half stories.

The hotel, which has begun construction at 4408 Red Arrow Highway, will be three stories tall with 87 rooms.

The amendment would also eliminate any incoming motels in the district. Freehling said existing motels, such as the Super 8 along Red Arrow, would be grandfathered into the amended ordinance.

A hotel is often considered to be a building with interior corridors that link to guest rooms, and they typically offer more guest services to customers. A motel does not have these interior corridors.

However, the commission did not spell out the difference between the two.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 8, 2015)

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