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November 26, 2013

Council gives green light to two four-story hotels

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Plans for two four-story hotels at 14 Mile and Stephenson rolled forward after the Troy City Council unanimously approved a rezoning request Nov. 11.

The request had come before the Planning Commission three separate times before members unanimously recommended that the council approve the request Oct. 8. 

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the City Council, which has final approval on rezoning requests.

The 4.5-acre site was zoned office. A vacant three-story building sits there now. Developer Akram Namou requested the property be rezoned to office mixed-use in order to build a Fairfield Inn & Suites and Townplaces Suites by Marriott, an extended-stay hotel. Hotels are permitted through special use approval in the office mixed-use zone. 

Numerous residents had opposed the rezoning at the Planning Commission meetings, citing invasion of privacy, noise from vehicles in the parking lot and the number of other hotels in the area.

Dick Carlisle of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, told the council that the city zoning ordinances adopted in April 2011 offered alternatives to the office zoning, taking into account the city’s 30 percent vacancy rate in office buildings.

“The Master Plan in this area does call for a mix of uses,” Carlisle said. “Office space is problematic in the city.”

He noted that the developer exceeded requirements by providing a rear-yard setback of between 178 and 185 feet, when the requirement is 50 feet.

“They’ve more than met the buffering and setback requirements,” he added. “The building has been empty for three years,” Namrou said. “It’s really an eyesore. We bent over backwards to exceed requirements.”

He added that there had been “a lot of effort and lot of thought” made to accommodate residents. The hotels will not have a restaurant or bar.

The plans include features Namrou voluntarily offered that were not required, an 8-foot decorative sound wall along the western property line and a double row of 12- to 15-foot trees to mitigate sound.

“We’re concerned about the four stories,” Mary Jo Austin, a resident on Redwood, said to the council at the Nov. 11 meeting. “Marriott says the buildings must be four stories — why can’t the city say three stories, what it’s zoned for?”

‘“The citizens want the building filled, but not at the expense of the neighborhood,” said resident Cynthia Wilsher. “Do we need four Marriotts in Troy?”

“We’ve read everything supplied,” said Troy Mayor Dane Slater. “This is sure one of the more difficult decisions the council has to make. I think the buffer is going to work.”

“These are always heart- wrenching,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dave Henderson. “It’s a commercial area. If we don’t approve this, it could be worse.”

“I thank the developer for so much effort and being flexible to what the residents asked for, “ said Councilman Doug Tietz.

“Please make the residents feel welcome,” Slater said to the developer after the council approved the rezoning request.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.