Traverse City News and Events

New Fairfield Inn Proposed For Crossing Circle

By Beth Milligan | Aug. 10, 2018

A new three-story, 95-room Fairfield Inn is being proposed to be built in the Crossing Circle shopping center in Garfield Township – a project developers hope will drive business to restaurants and retail stores at the property, but has raised concerns about potential impacts on residential neighbors.

Garfield Township planning commissioners held a conceptual review Wednesday of the project proposed by North Michigan Hospitality Management, a group that also manages Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Traverse City next to Sam’s Club. The company is proposing to build a new hotel on 3.62 acres of property currently home to Resurrection Life Church (pictured) behind Books-A-Million.

The church would be demolished to make way for the hotel, which as proposed would stretch to within 10 feet of residential road Rennie Street and the Emerald Hills condominium subdivision on the property’s north end. Preliminary site plans call for 106 parking spaces on the site – one for each hotel room along with staff parking, with up to 10 employees expected to work during peak shifts.

Plans call for preserving a 100-foot zone on the eastern edge of the property next to the Miller Creek Nature Preserve, with the existing trail within the wooded site maintained. Access to the hotel would be provided via the Crossing Circle boulevard as well as a proposed second gated entrance at Rennie Street that would be for emergency services only. That access point will require the approval of the Emerald Hills condominium board. The hotel would not have an on-site restaurant, only enough kitchen amenities to provide a continental breakfast.

Dusty Christensen of Mansfield Land Use Consultants, which is representing the development group, said the proposed hotel “pairs really well” with the shopping center site and would increase the “viability of the Crossings” property. “Bringing 100 rooms’ worth of visitors here on a regular basis would really do a lot for the restaurants and stores within that development,” Christensen said. He also noted the original intention of the shopping center’s planned unit development (PUD) – a customized zoning plan for a specific property – was to have a mixed-use site “where the residential and commercial uses…had some sort of interaction or interplay between them.”

But it was the potential infringement of the hotel on residential neighbors that drew the most concern from planning commissioners, who otherwise supported the concept of a Fairfield Inn opening on the property. “My first reaction is I think is a hotel is a perfectly fine, appropriate use somewhere on that site,” said Chair John Racine. “I suspect that from the perspective of the residents to the north, they’re probably used to it being pretty quiet six days out of the week. So we’re certainly going to have to be very, very careful with the interplay between the north and the south there.” Several commissioners expressed a desire to see a 30-foot instead of 10-foot setback from the residential property line, though Christensen said that would impact parking on the site and thus reduce the number of rooms that could be built in the hotel. “We’d probably lose enough parking that we’d have to have a smaller hotel or no hotel at all,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest issue we’re facing here, is the relationship between the hotel use and the residential uses to the north.”

Christensen told planning commissioners developers were sensitive to potential impacts on the Emerald Hills condominium complex, especially after Township Planner Rob Larrea pointed out the township had received “a lot of complaints from that area over the years” because of a constant flow of delivery trucks to and from Walmart.

“(The developers) are completely in agreement that they need to provide a buffer between the residential uses to the north and their proposed use,” said Christensen. “They’re willing to do a substantial amount of landscaping within the proposed 10-foot buffer, as well as put up a 7-foot privacy fence or wall.” He added the hotel site would “not be intrusive as the Walmart, just based on the number of deliveries that are basically happening in these people’s backyards…the intensity of use that this proposed hotel would bring doesn’t match that level.”

Because the hotel discussion was only a conceptual review Wednesday, planning commissioners did not take any action on the proposed project. Based on the commission’s feedback, Mansfield Land Use Consultants is expected to return in the future with a detailed site plan to begin the formal process of amending the PUD to allow the Fairfield Inn to be built. Christensen said project representatives would also meet with Emerald Hills residents to get their feedback before returning to the planning commission, and would obtain the required approval of 60 percent or more of property owners within Crossing Circle necessary to proceed with the hotel.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting…
Garfield Township planning commissioners unanimously made a recommendation to the township board to reject a request from Schostak Brothers & Company to amend the township’s zoning code to allow a U-Haul center to open at the former Kmart site at the Cherryland Center.

Planning commissioners agreed with staff’s assessment that the project is “contrary to the (township’s) master plan” and that the property owners “failed to justify their request to amend the (zoning code) to include warehousing and small warehousing within the commercial district.” The township’s zoning code allows for companies like U-Haul to be located in its industrial districts, but not within shopping districts.

“Garfield Township’s planned shopping centers are strategically located along our major thoroughfares and adjacent to single-family neighborhoods, which presents a compatibility challenge when trying to justify a warehousing and small warehousing use,” staff wrote in a report to the planning commission. “In addition, there are hundreds of acres that are properly zoned to accommodate the proposed warehousing use, and the request fails to demonstrate a need to expand into commercial areas.”

Despite the recommendation to reject the rezoning request, Schostak Brothers & Company still has the right to appear before the township board of trustees and ask officials to ignore the planning commission's input and approve the project. The final decision on the request rests with the township board.

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