Northland Community Council development committee members voted unanimously Oct. 24 to recommend approval of variances needed to turn the former Continental Inn into an extended-stay hotel.

It was the second time the request to reduce the required number of parking spaces and increase the allowable density on the site was before the committee.

Confusion over what sections of the zoning code actually were involved at the September session led to the delay.

The variances are needed, said Danny Popp of DDP and Associates, representing owner Mitun Patel, and Dave Paul, the committee's chairman, because different rules apply when a hotel becomes more like an apartment.

The variances ask that the density be increased from the required 36 units an acre to 65, and that the number of mandated parking spaces be trimmed from 1.5 for each dwelling unit to 1.03.

"Basically, it's a glorified hotel with little kitchenettes," Popp said.

He said his client is hoping to attract business travelers who need to stay several days or several weeks and don't want to dine out all the time.

Patel purchased the hotel at 6225 Zumstein Drive two years ago and has been working to bring it up to code ever since, Popp said.

"He's not looking to create an apartment complex," Popp told committee members.

Also, Popp said Patel had reached an agreement with representatives of the All American Quarter Horse Congress to use up to 42 parking spaces of the nearby headquarters for overflow from his site.

Patel said he also is negotiating with other adjacent property owners for additional spaces.

He said renovating the building from a hotel into an extended-stay place will reduce the number of units from 142 to 122.

The vote to back the variances was 20-0, Paul said.

"There was a lot of discussion," he said. "Generally, folks were pretty much satisfied that they were doing what they had to do. Some of them weren't thrilled with the use. They did vote unanimously to recommend approval."