Friday, January 30, 2015

High Rise Hotel - Update & Open Letter

As many of you are aware, there was a recent meeting regarding the possible construction of a high rise hotel in Belle Isle at 2635 McCoy Road, right behind many of the homes on Trentwood Blvd. It appeared that nearly all of the residents from Trentwood attended the meeting, along with other residents from around our City. Also in attendance were Commissioners Nielsen and Readey as well as Gregg Templin from the Planning and Zoning Board.

During the public comments section of the meeting, Mr. Templin gave a thorough overview of the process that the developer would have to go through to receive the necessary variance. First, the developer would have to request a variance from the P&Z board. If the variance is denied by the P&Z board (which is likely, as I have observed that they tend to stick to the rules), then the developer can appeal to the City Council. If the developer's appeal is granted by City Council, then the Planning and Zoning Board's decision is overruled and the variance is granted.

Mr. Templin further clarified that no variance has yet been requested by the developer. Since P&Z meetings take place on the fourth Tuesday of each month, the earliest this variance could be addressed by the P&Z board is February 26.

Some of the residents' objections to this variance are issues that affect residents throughout our City, not just those few residents on Trentwood who received notice of the meeting from the developer. I received today the following open letter from Belle Isle resident Mike Sims, providing his perceptions of the meeting for those Commissioners not in attendance.

Dear Belle Isle Commissioners,

Reference the meeting held at Belle Isle City Hall, 27 Jan 2015, regarding the high rise hotel being proposed on McCoy Road. The meeting was hosted by developer Kimley Horn. In the meeting, the developer informed residents that they would be seeking a variance to move forward with this high rise hotel. I would like to inform you of how the meeting went and the tenor of the meeting. 

Bottom line:  The citizens of Belle Isle that you represent do not want this variance approved and absolutely do not want this project to be built. Many attendees spoke up, all with the same message. The passion of these citizens was unmistakable. Note, the meeting was standing room only.

The developer had a briefing that claimed Value Place extended stay hotels were clean, safe, and attracted clientele such as visiting nurses and engineers. After the briefing, the audience referenced internet reviews of similar hotels in our area which illuminated the opposite. These types of hotels are historically unsafe and are havens for drugs, prostitution, and crime. These weren’t our words, these were actual internet reviews. Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears and the developer seemed unmoved. Many viable alternatives were offered but it was clear that the developer was getting a good deal on this land and only wanted to build his prefabricated building, on this site, and nothing else.

There was an overwhelming emotion that Belle Isle does not need this hotel and building it would be a disaster for our community. Traffic impacts, increased crime, water issues, and adverse effect on nearby homes were all discussed, and these are only examples of the concerns. All this after discussing that there were already six (6) hotels on this small strip along McCoy Road.

Everyone seemed to have the same question:  “Is this proposal the best use of that land? – A 50 foot high extended stay hotel?” In speaking with other residents after the meeting there was a feeling that the land owner and the developer, by even proposing this project, were sending us a message loud and clear: We don’t care about you, or your homes, or your community.

I recognize that this issue is not presently before the commissioners but am simply being forthcoming with the prevailing sentiment should it ever come before you.

This is the type of project we trust our elected officials to protect us from. I ask that all Belle Isle city government persons research for themselves the track record of these “extended stay” hotels and whether they want such a hotel in our community.

As residents of Belle Isle, I believe our city officials should be as against this project as we are. 

Mike Sims
Resident of Trentwood Blvd.

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