In 1880, Ohio Wesleyan University professor Hiram Perkins built a stately residence at 235 W. William St.
Whether the building should have a three-story hotel added onto it was debated during a Delaware City Council hearing June 25.
Three ordinances were up for second readings: to approve a rezoning amendment, grant a conditional-use permit and approve a preliminary development plan for the project.
Eight residents spoke during the hearing. Seven criticized the plan as an inappropriate use in an otherwise residential area. Another endorsed the plan, citing the need to renovate the Perkins house, which has fallen into disrepair.
The hotel is proposed by developer Jim Manos, who has other properties in Delaware and Columbus.
He plans to give the Perkins house a three-story addition containing 47 rooms, to be named the Wesleyan Inn. Forty-seven parking spaces are planned. The project would encompass the adjacent lot at 239 W. William St.
Manos told council he plans to take a "run-down frat house" and turn it into a "first-class hotel. ... It's not going to be a cheap hotel." He predicted parents of OWU students would be among his main customers.
Manos cited Main Street Delaware awards he has received for other renovation projects in the city.
"My properties are very nice. I keep them nice," he said, adding the hotel would have security cameras and its parking lot would meet city security standards.
He said he is sensitive to neighbors' concerns and is willing to plant trees and conduct landscaping to create a visual buffer from nearby residences.
Roger Koch, an area resident who said he has been involved with local preservation efforts, told council the house suffered "serious neglect" under previous owners, and Manos would be within his rights to demolish it.
"I urge you to let this man incorporate it into his project," he said.
While declining to say if she supported or opposed the plan, Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle told the audience, "I listened to every word each and every one of you said. I understand it. Everybody wants things built. Nobody wants it in their backyard or in their neighborhood. We hear it week after week at council. ... Delaware needs a hotel, period."
Councilwoman Lisa Keller said she opposes the plan, based on neighbors' objections.
Neighbors speaking at the meeting cited heavy traffic on West William Street and parking issues the hotel could create -- concerns Keller characterized as valid.
Earlier in the meeting, city Director of Engineering Services Bill Ferrigno said West William Street sees about 15,000 vehicles a day.
If westbound traffic on William Street tries to turn left into the hotel site, it might back up vehicles to nearby Elizabeth Street, snarling traffic.
A left-turn lane could mitigate that, he said, but would require changes to parking on the north side of William.
One option could be an enforced right-in, right-out turn from the project site onto William, he said.
Lori Flaglor, who lives near the site, told council, "This hotel helps no one but Mr. Manos. ... You want us to take 10 giant steps backward in our neighborhood and sacrifice the quality of life that we have been building on there so that we can restore a Perkins house historically that nobody (cared) about until this project came up? I don't think so.
"I'm asking you to deny this rezoning and deny the building of this hotel," Flaglor told council.
Council tentatively is scheduled to vote on third readings of the proposed ordinances during its meeting set for 7 p.m. July 9 at City Hall.