Fayetteville board balks at approving project, postpones final vote on hotel


Developer Steven Gulas was back before the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission on May 25. For the second meeting in a row his proposal to construct a hotel on Ga. Highway 85 just north of downtown was tabled.

The proposal to build a four-story hotel first went before commissioners on April 25 where it was tabled without reason.

The hotel will likely carry the Comfort Suites brand. As proposed, the hotel would come with 63 guest rooms and total 43,000 sq. ft. Hotels are allowed by special exception in the C-1 (downtown commercial) zoning district.

City planning staff on May 25 recommended approval of the special exception with the condition that the hotel be situated parallel to the roadway to to enhance the downtown walking environment.

While not stated as a reason for opposing the project, the idea of the 4-story height of the hotel surfaced both at the May 25 meeting and at the one in April. Chairman Sarah Murphy in April also questioned the height of the proposed hotel at four stories.

Commissioner Debbie Renfroe during the discussion said the hotel “is still an eyesore even at three stories,” and after the discussion made a motion that the request be denied, saying the 43,000 sq. ft. building was too large. The motion was defeated on a 2-3 vote, with only Renfroe and Commissioner Derryll Anderson voting in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Ken Collins then made a motion that the request be approved with conditions. The vote on that motion was 2-3, with Collins and Commissioner Toby Spencer in favor.

Commissioner John Reeves voted opposed on both motions.

A third and final motion was made to table the item so that Gulas could bring a sight-line rendering to the meeting.

Collins and the other commissioners wanted to see how the height of the hotel would look when compared to downtown buildings situated a block away.

Gulas said he would comply, noting that the hotel site would be situated 12 or more feet lower in elevation than the center of downtown just over a block away.

Not stated by any on the commission was the city’s recently completed 20-year comprehensive plan that saw participation from more than 500 residents. The plan for the downtown area, with elevations preferred by residents and located on the city’s website, shows several examples of downtown commercial buildings of three stories.

The new downtown master plan which would lead to the implementation of the city’s vision for downtown is expected to be approved by the City Council this summer.

Both Renfroe and Collins served on the comprehensive plan steering committee.

The bottom line is that five-story buildings, by city ordinance and confirmed by City Manager Ray Gibson, are permitted in Fayetteville, including in the downtown area.