Zebulon leaders OK permit for hotel project

08/05/2014 12:02 PM

08/05/2014 11:58 AM

In a 3-1 vote, town board members cleared the way for a planned hotel in a crowded area of town off Pearces Road.

But their decision didn’t exactly sit well with the applicant.

Jerry Thomas told property owners Chad and Betty Ray that he was not happy with a condition commissioners attached to their approval that will require him to extend the hotel’s parking lot to the property line to make it easier to develop vacant land behind the proposed hotel site.

“I’ve done a lot of these things and there is always a surprise,” Thomas said after the meeting.

He said he does not see the requirement derailing the project, but he didn’t want to extend the driveway because it will turn the hotel parking lot into a pass-through for whatever business is ultimately built on the neighboring property.

Commissioner Glenn York cast the lone dissenting vote against the measure. His vote was in keeping with the recommendation of the town’s planning board, which had expressed concerns about the additional traffic that will be generated. According to the developer’s reports, the 40-room hotel will generate about 23 trips per hour at peak travel times.

Commissioner Beverly Wall-Clark recused herself from voting because she works for the Rays, who own the property.

The hotel, a Beacon Inn, is planned for 40 rooms with interior entryways. Classified as a business motel by the town, the facility will not have meeting or conference rooms or other amenities. The parking lot will be designed to make room for large trucks.

In making a motion to approve he special use permit, Commissioner Dale Beck said project is one more sign that the town’s growth is picking back up.

“This will be good for Zebulon,” he said. “This is a win for Sheetz and Eddins Oil and the Dash-in. It’s a win for Fargo’s, McLean’s and Hillbillies. Most business travelers are going to get gas when they are here and they are going to look for somwhere to eat.”

Chad Ray, speaking after the meeting, said he was pleased with the board’s decision, particularly in light of the planning board’s recommendation to deny the permit.

“I think they made the right decision for the entire town. But I’ve done enough of these to know you never know whay might happen,” Ray said.

He said he recognizes the sincere concerns from neighbors, but he says most of the patrons of the hotel will not add to the traffic congestion in the area around Arendell Avenue and Pearces Road because most of the clients will arrive before afternoon rush hours and leave before morning rush hours.

The area around the Arendell Avenue and Pearces Road intersection has seen a lot of development in recent years, beginning with a townhome community that was home to several opponents of the hotel. Sheetz recently opened on the corner and the town has worked with the Department of Transportation to widen Arendell Avenue at that intersection.

The decision has drawn a lot of mixed reaction on social media. Those who support the town board’s decision echo Beck’s comments that the project is a sign of renewed growth. Opponents of the proposal say commissioners weren’t responsive to the concerns residents raised about the project.

Thomas said he hopes to begin no later than early next year and once construction begins he said it will take about four months to complete the work.

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