MARQUETTE – The City of Marquette’s Zoning and Planning Commision voted 5 – 2 against granting a special use permit to a proposed hotel development on Lakeshore Boulevard last night. The 5 and a half hour hearing drew a monumental crowd and volume of mail correspondence, the vast majority of whom spoke against the project. The developers were looking to be granted a special use permit to build the hotel on Lakeshore Boulevard, between Stuga North Veterinary Clinic and the Nestledown Bed & Breakfast.
The project, a Hilton ‘Home 2’ hotel, was presented to the commission by local Marquette architect Barry Polzin. Polzin’s firm has been the architect on numerous other Marquette projects, such as One Marquette Place & the Lakeshore Hampton in downtown Marquette. The 107-bed hotel would have been an extended-stay hotel, mostly serving guests lodging between 7 and 30 days, although guests can check into Home2 Hotels for shorter stays. Standing at four stores tall, it would have occupied a lot formerly holding industrial buildings.
Developed and owned by NJA Management of Farmington Hills, MI, and Derek Parker of Skandia, the project immediately garnered criticism from the local community, which manifested at the Public Hearing on September 6th, where Commission Chair Joy Cardillo, says she saw the biggest turnout she’s ever seen. Around the room, attendees sat along the walls and on the floors, and approximately 70 people began lining up outside the room when occupancy limits were reached. 51 letters of correspondence were also sent to the commission for consideration during the hearing.
The meeting agenda began with the applicant request to the commission, with Barry Polzin representing the project. Polzin explained the basis of an extended-stay hotel, and what the firm had done to limit effects on the neighborhood. Polzin went on to say that “This is a gift”, in reference to the project. Polzin also stated that the hotel would fall well under the maximum dimensions for a building in the zone, and that another project could be constructed on the land that would not require special use permits, and that the proposed project would be “a much more gentle use of the property.”
Following the applicant proposal, public testimony began; giving attendees a chance to speak for three minutes about their opinions on the project. Public testimony went on for around three hours, with the vast majority of Marquette residents speaking out against the project. Grievances with the project included an increase in traffic (approximated at 400 cars a day), light pollution, changes in water runoff, noise from guests, and failure to fit in with the community physically and aesthetically. Multiple citizens contrasted the project with the addition of Stuga North Veterinary Clinic and the Nestledown Bed & Breakfast, stating that those businesses fit the example of commercial businesses trying to “blend in” with the local neighborhood.
The commission then discussed the project amongst themselves, frequently asking Polzin questions about the project; such as the relevancy of the traffic study used in the proposal, which was done in 2014, or the proposition of alcohol being served at the hotel, which had so far been undecided in the project. Commissioners discussed if the project met certain requirements of the Community Master Plan; the basis of Marquette’s city planning and zoning.
By 11:30pm, the commission made a motion to vote against the project, which passed 5-2, and the Hilton Home2 Project was denied it’s Special Use Permit, and therefore unable to be built and operated on that land. Polzin said afterwards that he had “no hard feelings” regarding the outcome, and that the “process is established for special use. You have to ask the question, so that’s what we did, we asked the question; we just got the answer.” Polzin also said that there were not any secondary land options for the hotel, although his clients are “hot on Marquette” and will likely be looking for another location. Land owner Derek Parker was unavailable for comment.