Although the chairman and a member of the Northland Community Council's development committee welcome efforts by Columbus city officials to more closely regulate extended-stay hotels, they said it may be too little, too late.
Rules governing the development of apartment complexes are more stringent about things such as landscaping, parking and buffering requirements than those that can be imposed on extended-stay hotels, which are treated like normal hotels and motels under state law.
City officials have devised new regulations recognizing extended-stay hotels as needing their own category in the municipal code. Members of the Columbus Development Commission were scheduled to review the regulations at their Sept. 12 session, after press time for ThisWeek Northland News.
William Logan pointed out that several extended-stay hotels have already been permitted in the Northland area under the existing rules.
"We're reacting to conditions that are already starting to exist and complaints being lodged," Logan said. "The code is complaint-driven. If enough people complain about something, something's going to be done about it."
Logan, who is head of the Northland Area Code Task Force, also sits on the city's code development committee, which helped devise the new set of regulations that will eventually go to Columbus City Council for a vote.
"It now recognizes extended-stay hotels as a separate, identifiable function, independent from standard day-to-day motels," Logan said. "Previously, there was nothing in the code that really addressed that function.
"It's geared in the direction of viewing these facilities more in line with regulations associated with apartment buildings, and as such, to have greater control over and higher requirements for parking spaces, for example, that a motel would not have to meet, some issues with screening associated with the perimeter of the property. It's recognized now in the code by name and by definition."
Although not as familiar with the proposed legislation as Logan, NCC development committee Chairman Dave Paul said last week he does see the need for rules that specifically address extended-stay operations.
"I think the fact that the code really doesn't address at all this phenomenon means it clearly should be defined in the code," Paul said. "I think there should be some additional requirements on these residential uses, as opposed to treating them as if they were strictly commercial uses."
Extended-stay hotels have the same or greater capacity to have an impact on surrounding single-family residential areas as proposed apartment buildings, he noted.
"There are very likely some unique characteristics that the code needs to recognize," Paul said.
Ideally, in Logan's view, the new rules would allow specific requirements based on the location of a proposed new extended-stay hotel.
Downtown needs might be different from those in an urban setting or those in the suburbs, he said. Logan believes city officials should be able to "custom-make regulations to apply to a particular location."
One of the newest proposed extended-stay hotels, which would not have to meet any proposed additional regulations, will be a 329-unit hotel on the site of a former Kmart, 5005 Olentangy River Road on the Northwest Side.
Northwest Civic Association President John Ehlers and Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the zoning, graphics and development committee, also applauded the idea of requiring extended-stay hotels to operate more like apartments.
"It will be the small but important things, because they're going to have to meet what apartments meet," Lisko said. "We're supporting this change in the code."
"They've got a distinct competitive advantage in terms of having fewer development standards," Ehlers said. "This puts the apartment developers at a little bit of a disadvantage but also compromises some of the niceties of what the residential code was trying to build in."