A request to rezone property at Kedron Office Park to allow for the construction of two hotels and a conference center met with some opposition from nearby residents at Monday’s planning commission meeting, prompting the commission to table the issue.
Apsilon Hotels, owner of the existing Hilton Garden Inn in Peachtree City, is seeking to rezone the a 14.65 acre tract at 100 World Drive. Their intention is to build at least one Marriott extended stay hotel and an event/banquet center, with plans to potentially build a second hotel in the future.
Raj Patel, representing Apsilon, said Peachtree City has shown a need for additional hotel space, particularly with the arrival of Pinewood Studios as well as a recently announced film studio development in Union City at the old Shannon Mall.
Patel said his company was “invested” in Peachtree City since building the Hilton Garden Inn in 2009.
“We built the Hilton Garden Inn in 2009 from the ground up. We have owned and operated it since then,” Patel said. “We’re not here to just build hotels and turn around and sell them. We believe in Peachtree City, there is enough businesses in Peachtree City to accomodate this hotel.”
Patel said the second proposed hotel is still speculative, and would be built only if Apsilon recognized demand for it.
“We would like to do it if there’s a market for it. We’re not stupid that we would create competition for our existing hotels, but what I feel about the future with the businesses coming to into [the area], it makes sense that the demand is going to increase,” Patel said, referencing Pinewood studios and the local film industry in particular.
Peachtree City Senior Planner David Rast recommended the planning commission approve the rezoning from OI (Office Institutional) to LUC (Limited Use Commercial).
Rast addressed concerns that had been brought up at a previous meeting that allowing this rezoning would reduce potentially much needed office space in the city. He said a study was conducted which found that the city has around 1.27 million square feet of tenant space “strictly designed for office use” and around 25-percent of that space is currently vacant.
Rast presented some additional numbers as well which suggested the city has a healthy availability of office space at the moment.
A resident claiming to speak for the Kedron Hills subdivision said the rezoning did not fit with the land use plan and would not serve Kedron Village. He noted the language in the land use plan said developments should serve the village they are located in.
He also said the proposed hotel was only around 265 feet away from the nearest home and that the woods in between would not provide protection for noise or light disturbance, particularly in the winter when the leaves had fallen. He also noted the safety concerns.
“We don’t know who these people are, and frankly it frightens all of us. I have to be quite honest with you,” he said of the people that would stay in the proposed hotels.
“[Residents are] going to be required to put a bunch of people that they don’t know within 90 yards of their kids.”
Other nearby residents questioned the city’s vision for development.
“I’ve lived in Peachtree City for 15 years, Fayette County for 35 years,” said one resident. “It just seems that you people don’t know when to stop developing property. There must have been a vision for Peachtree City 40 or 50 years ago, but it’s not what it is now.”
Patel responded to some of the concerns, saying he and the other investors were willing to adapt to the city’s vision, including eliminating plans for an event center, which drew some additional concern regarding traffic and noise issues.
“I’m going to just say this: a lot of people think we’re greedy businessmen, we’re not,” Patel said. “What I’m saying is if the event center is something you guys are totally opposed to, I’m open to the idea of scrapping it. If people are concerned about traffic, I don’t have a problem changing the plans.”
Patel also said the concerns aired at the meeting were the “first time” he’d heard any concerns from the community regarding traffic or noise.
Commissioner Aaron Daily said he would prefer that Apsilon look for other suitable locations before considering a rezoning.
“If there’s an opportunity to build a similar facility somewhere else, that would be my preference,” Daily said.
Commissioner Phil Prebor agreed.
“I’d like to see and know [the developer has] explored other options before we change the zoning,” Prebor said. He also noted that there may be a high vacancy for office space now, but that could change over a five year window.
Commissioner Lynda Wojcik said she felt there is a need for more hotel rooms in the city, but the “best location for one is up for debate.”
She said she wanted to postpone a vote to the next meeting to “research it more deeply.”
Chairman Frank Destadio agreed “there are concerns” in relation to traffic, particularly.
The commission voted 3-1 to table the matter to a future meeting. Destadio voted against tabling.