Town Board Vote Gives Hotel Plan the Go-Ahead
Town commissioners Tuesday night approved construction of a 115-room hotel next to Community School of Davidson (CSD) on Griffith Street. The project, which has been in the works for two years, has been opposed by many citizens, several of whom voiced their disapproval at a public hearing during the meeting.
Opponents said the hotel would increase traffic in the area, create parking problems and light pollution, negatively affect the adjoining homes in the Westside neighborhood, diminish the tree canopy, and endanger children attending the school. They also cited misrepresentation of the amount of tax revenue the new hotel would generate, false claims concerning the stance of businesses to a petition about the effect of a hotel on other town businesses, and a feeling that the opinion of developers is more important to board members than the opinion of the general citizenry.
Several people said they were not against construction of a hotel, but would prefer it be located closer to the interstate and further from CSD.
One speaker said that for two years the project has been “like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.” She and others urged the board to leave any action on the project to the next board of commissioners, who take office at the December 12 meeting. She told board members that they have one chance “to do the right thing” before their term ends.
Several speakers came forth in favoring the plan. They noted that the CSD will probably relocate within a few years, and felt like a hotel is the best use of the site and that it uses less impervious surface than allowed. Boris Bunich, one of three Beacon IMG partners applying for approval, noted that their firm has deep roots in Davidson, and has proven their fidelity to the community through support and sponsorship of community non-profits like the Ada Jenkins Center. Proponents also pointed out the willingness of the builders to change their plans to meet plan revisions requested by the town, some of which substantially increase the price of the project, such as new dense buffers of deciduous trees, a multi-use path across the site, two transit stops, and the construction of a mid-block crossing on Griffith Street.
Town manager Jamie Justice said that board approval clears the way for further steps in the planning process. He said, “Now they go into the next phase of planning and design. They will still go through our planning department to make sure they comply with the ordinance and the plans approved last night. As long as they meet all the standards and requirements they can move forward. But if for some reason down the road they find they can’t do something that was agreed to, or something causes them to change their plans, they would have to come back to the board to amend their conditional plan approval.”
The board also considered other three-minute appeals from citizens at the meeting. They included width of new sidewalks on Potts Street, the general plan for the Potts Street/Sloan Street connector, and realignment of South Main Street. Mary Ann Hammons, president of the board of the new Davidson Village Network, introduced about 15 charter members of that non-profit, and described its mission to help aging citizens stay in their own homes as long as possible. Town staff announced appointments of several citizens to advisory boards, including the Design Review Board, Planning Board, Livability Board, and Public Art Commission.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.