The Berkshire Township Zoning Commission unanimously approved a proposed extended stay hotel on Fourwinds Drive at its Nov. 7 meeting.
Pending final approval by the Berkshire Township Board of Trustees, Fourwinds Place will consist of 256 units, with balconies, separate garages, a pool and exercise room, meeting space, and access to a computer, fax and printer. Instead of a retention pond, their will be storm water drainage and filtration underneath the property. The hotel will be near the Northgate Church, Sunbelt Rental (both of which have Sunbury mailing addresses), and the new Chipotle, which is currently under construction along routes 36/37.
Newly-elected Trustee Josh Varble, who was in the audience, asked about the extended stay aspect of the hotel during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Joe Thomas, of Metro Development LLC, said there were three types of hotels under Ohio law: transient, resident and extended stay. The transient hotels are most common, where one stays for a night to a week. The extended stay hotel has short-term leases of at least 30 days. Primary clients are companies who have employees working on temporary assignments. Thomas said a background check is given to all residents before they can stay.
A example given was the new Dollar General Distribution Center in Morrow County, where management has a several-month assignment getting things up to speed, with team members staying at extended stays in Polaris and points south near the Columbus outerbelt. Metro Development has several extended stays around the Columbus outerbelt, from Gahanna to Hilliard, with the oldest property being at Polaris. Metro has been building since 1965 in central Ohio.
Another example of someone using an extended stay would be a family that has sold a home and is waiting to move into a home that is built for them. In response to a question about a school bus stop near the hotel, it was said that parents are responsible for transporting their children, and they have a 90-day time-frame to get into a permanent residence or they will be fined by the school district the children will be attending.
Northgate Church Senior Leader Chris Stephens said he was leery of the hotel at first, but he said all his questions had been answered and felt they would be a good neighbor.
In response to the commission, the developer agreed to add two parking islands to the plans to conform to the township’s zoning code. There were two divergences concerning space between parts of the hotel.
Commission member Andy Kerr said he wanted to be on record as saying he didn’t like the use of vinyl siding at the hotel, but he voted in favor of the plan. There was later discussion of changing the zoning code to make the use of vinyl siding a divergence.
Real estate attorney Steve Cuckler said Metro Development and Ken Belczak, the owner of Sunbelt Rental, reached an agreement concerning the border of their properties. Metro will remove the trees, restore a pond, and maintain the lawn up to a fence.
Todd Faris, of Faris Design, told commission member Jon Kerr that the trees couldn’t be saved, because there was dirt piled around their crowns to raise the Sunbelt property above its surroundings.
Upon approval, Cuckler said the hotel would help with economic development in Berkshire Township and be a win-win for the area near the Interstate 71 freeway exit. In a prior meeting, it was said that property taxes through the use of Tax Increment Financing could fund improvements to Longhorn and Bob Evans roads.
Also on the horizon, a proposed archery facility on Carters Corner Road has been discussed informally with the commission.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.