Marion still sticking with the plan?

Marion still sticking with the plan?

Second in a 2- part series about a zoning controversy at Angelo’s Grove

Marion Chamber of Commerce officials say a new hotel in Angelo’s Grove will be good for competition.

But according to the developers of Angelo’s Grove, allowing a proposed median cut to accommodate a new hotel that is not in the master plan not only undercuts their investment in the future of the development as far as traffic flow and safety, but also isn’t fair to Hampton Inn which was made to follow the master plan.

Chamber of Commerce Mike Demster asked the planning commission to approve the site plan for a proposed 67 room Best Western Plus because it is good for economic development.

“To me, we have an investment group that has looked at Marion and decided they want to invest their resources here,” Demster said. “We have an opportunity to increase the investment in job growth here in Marion. I would encourage the commission to keep that in mind.”

Demster added that having another hotel in Angelo’s Grove would also be good from a competition standpoint.

“We are absolutely delighted at the success of the Hampton Inn,” Demster said. “I think the fundamental principle here to me is the idea of competition is good.

I think it is a good thing for the committee to endorse the competitive spirit.”

Kenny Farrell, developer of Angelo’s Grove, contends that if the median cut is approved it would disrupt the safety and flow of traffic in the development and harm future development in the remaining 80 acres.

“It’s not a small point,” Farrell said. “It’s a boulevard where they are not supposed to interrupt it.”

Developer Franklin Fogleman has a deal to sell the property next to Colton’s for a proposed 67-room hotel.

The buyers originally wanted the city to approve a site plan which included a median cut on Angelo’s Boulevard facing Hampton Inn to allow traffic into the hotel, but has since changed the plan to include a right turn only curb cut on Angelo’s Grove Boulevard.

The hotel will still front Angelo’s Grove Boulevard, but the main entrance would be on Hannah Lane.

Farrell said the median cut is not in the master plan and believes Fogleman is trying to sneak it in at a later time.

“I wasn’t given a drawing which has been a continuing source of frustration I’ve dealt with through this process,” Farrell said. “I had to go to (City Planner) Ed Cain’s office to take a picture of it. Ed found it in the language that says ‘at this time.’ That’s a pretty big hint.”

Fogleman has argued that the median cut is no different than others along Goodman Road in Southaven or Saddle Creek on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, and that the master plan has been modified numerous times, none of which show curb cuts.

Farrell contends that those examples are traffic nightmares and are exactly what they are trying to avoid in Angelo’s Grove.

“We’re not trying to mimic Goodman Road in Southaven. We’d like to see that much retail growth. But we are not trying to mimic those traffic conditions. We are trying to do something better. You want people to walk from hotels — whether it is their hotel or the existing Hampton Inn or any future hotels — to restaurants.

We don’t want to change that. We have invested a lot of money to keep that from changing.”

Farrell said while he welcomes another hotel in Angelo’s Grove, they turned down median cuts for both Wendy’s and Zaxby’s, and that Hampton Inn invested $7 million on their hotel based on the master plan.

“It also puts a competitor’s driveway right across the street from them that they did not anticipate when they built the hotel,” Farrell said.Farrell is asking the planning commission to not approve the site plan until he gets a chance to present a traffic study at the city council meeting.

“I’m asking you to please not let them undo the good work the city has done,” Farrell said. “I don’t know what else we need to do to be a good developer-citizen. I’m just asking don’t do it just because they buy a piece of land from Franklin or us or anybody else to override the decade and a half of good work we have done.”

The city council will meet on June 27 at 7 p.m.

By Mark Randall