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Published: Tuesday, 12/5/2000

Zoning for hotel rejected

A site plan for a proposed In Town Suites at Airport Highway and I-475 was denied last night by Springfield Township trustees in a move that the trustees' vice president and the developer's engineer agreed was likely to lead to a lawsuit.

Walt Taube, Jr., the vice president who led the meeting, said that neighbors' opposition to the proposed long-stay hotel at 6455 Airport Highway led him to study the issue closely.

He said he voted against the site plan because he believes In Town Suites should be in an area zoned multi-family residential instead of commercial because it advertises itself as an apartment-hotel.

In Town Suites does not fit in the motel-hotel category in the township zoning code because it does not have any restaurants, meeting rooms, or recreational facilities, he said.

George Oravecz, consulting engineer representing the developer, said the suites could not be considered apartments under a multi-family category because they don't have kitchens.

Mr. Taube said the building would have to be set back 60 feet from I-475 to meet zoning codes.

Mr. Oravecz's drawings show the building set back 44 feet from I-475, and Mr. Taube said after the meeting there is not enough room on the property for the additional 16-foot setback on the east side while meeting all other requirements with the proposed building.

Mr. Oravecz gave examples of other buildings in the township that are less than 60 feet from I-475.

“I assume, George, your client is probably going to disagree,” Mr. Taube said after summing up his opinions.

“Yes,” Mr. Oravecz said from his seat in the front row.

“And probably end up suing the township,” Mr. Taube went on.

“Yes,” Mr. Oravecz said.

Sue Meek said she voted against the site plan because Airport Highway has many traffic problems.

“I think there are safety issues on that site, congestion issues on that site, and density issues on that site,” she said.

Mr. Oravecz said studies of similar facilities show that the 122-unit suites would have almost no impact during Airport Highway's rush hours.

Bob Floyd, president of the trustees, was in Pennsylvania because of the death of a brother-in-law.

After the meeting, Mr. Oravecz would only say that his group “certainly will look into a suit.”

“There's no doubt in my mind we'll be sued,” Mr. Taube said. “But in these situations you either get sued by the developer or sued by the neighborhood.”

Mr. Taube and Mrs. Meek, who a couple years ago had often argued at length during meetings, shook hands at the end of the meeting as neighbors thanked them for voting down the site plan.

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