The $9 million, 63-room hotel development has cleared another hurdle. Saline City Council voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance that allows hotels to be three stories tall. On May 10, Saline Planning Commission voted 6-0 to adopt City of Saline Zoning Ordinance, allowing hotels to have three stories.
Investors Jim Junga, Mark Kuykendall and builder Jim Haeussler are behind the hotel project that is planned for city-owned property east of The Oaks shopping plaza. Junga also plans to move his hardware store to the parcel.
Without the zoning change, the developer would have needed a zoning variance for a three-story hotel. According to the amended ordinance, three story hotels no taller than 55 feet may be granted by city council after review and recommendation by the planning commission, in accordance with special land use provisions.
The decision came with approval of Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Olsen, who used both periods of public comment to speak on the issue.
“I’ve been going to other communities and looking around. The bottom line is for a hotel to financially survive it has to have a critical mass of rooms. So you’re starting with a certain number of rooms. If you have one floors or two floors, you do end up with a sprawling building,” Olsen told council. “Three stories compacts the size. It’s a good compromise. So I hope city council will move that forward.”
The number of stories of the hotel caused controversy on city council earlier this year when the hotel developers appeared before council seeking its approval of the general design for the hotel. Councillor Dean Girbach, said it was sending the wrong message to city planners to approve a concept in violation of city ordinance.
Mayor Brian Marl said city planners discussed the issue at one meeting and took action at the next.
Councillor Linda TerHaar said she was happy that government kept some ability for oversite in the ordinance.
“I appreciate that this is not just an automatic thing – that everything still needs to be reviewed by the planning commission and approved by city council. So it’s not a simple, blanket approval for a three-story hotel. It still goes through an entire approval process,” TerHaar said.