Northland News

NCC development committee

Panel opposes combined plan for hotel-self storage project

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Following last week's rejection of a proposed 124-room hotel and storage unit project for 13.5 acres at 4042 Morse Road, the attorney for the would-be developer vowed to return to the Northland Community Council development committee with a revised request.

The site was once proposed for an extended-stay hotel and also for a self-storage operation, according to Jeffrey L. Brown of Smith and Hale LLC.

Both of those fell through for one reason or another, he said at the development panel's meeting, so the current owner is now contemplating both an extended-stay hotel and a storage business.

"That site has always been very difficult to develop due to the number of utility easements that run through the property," Brown said.

That includes an AEP substation on the site.

Brown unsuccessfully sought the committee's recommendation for approval on a rezoning request from commercial planned development to limited manufacturing. The commercial planned development zoning was limited to a skateboard park for which his firm obtained approval in 2003.

"The committee ultimately decided unanimously to recommend disapproval on that application," Chairman Dave Paul said of the Ellis Co. Ltd. request. "The reasoning was not that they were opposed to the hotel there ... or even so much that they were opposed to outdoor storage, but they felt that the zoning that was being requested, limited manufacturing, was overbroad."

A hotel by itself might have "sailed through," according to Paul, and a storage operation, even one with outside storage for boats and recreational vehicles, "probably would have been approved."

As Brown pointed out several times during his presentation, the NCC development committee already approved an earlier rezoning request for self-storage on the site, according to Paul.

However, committee members were concerned that, in spite of some exclusions already listed in the application, such as adult entertainment, limited manufacturing zoning "could also end up containing a whole lot of other things," Paul indicated.

"There are some exclusions in the text but not nearly the number of exclusions that we'd like to see of uses," he said.

Based on Brown's presentation, he added, committee members have no clear picture "what might end up going there."

"The committee understood that we might get overruled, but they were OK with that," Paul said.

Nearby resident Mike Innes spoke against the request at the meeting, saying the combination hotel/self-storage business would hurt the value of homes.

"Many of us are already underwater and can't afford to lose more value on our properties," Innes said. "Put it somewhere that it will positively impact our community."

The Strawberry Farms subdivision where he lives is very safe, Innes added, but a commercial operation such as a hotel and self-storage operation so close by is "sure to change the way parents and neighbors feel about being outside."

"Our cookouts can be seen from the hotel," he said.

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