City Council members gave the go-ahead Monday for a local hotel and restaurant to expand while increasing the number of public parking spaces in Crescent City.
The Council voted unanimously to allow JAYA Investments, owner of Best Western Northwoods Inn and Restaurant on U.S. Highway 101, to encroach upon a city-owned right-of-way to create additional parking.
The owner plans to add a third story to the hotel's central building and a second story to the restaurant, but must add additional parking to comply with city zoning laws, said Associate City Planner Eric Taylor. Since the city was granted the right-of-way as long as the parcel of land was developed for public use, the hotel owners agreed to open its new parking lot to the public, Taylor said. The Crescent City Planning Commission approved the hotel's proposed expansion in April. The land itself is owned by the Hambro Group, he said.
"This will not be exclusive for visitors to the hotel or restaurant," Taylor said. "We're also requesting that the parking areas be posted with signage indicating that it's for public use. He's not allowed to put up any signage stating that it's only for hotel guests."
JAYA Investments plans to add nine new rooms to the hotel and more room for patrons and office space at the restaurant, Taylor said. The current parking lot has 113 parking stalls. To comply with city zoning laws, JAYA Investments is required to add 70 more parking spaces, Taylor said.
The hotel facility is spread out over four parcels of land, which are intersected by the map-only "paper streets" Rees, Thompson and Magruder, according to the city's staff report. The city holds easements on those streets, which are part of the Walton Docks subdivision.
The city initially required JAYA Investments to increase the number of parking to 196 spaces, Taylor said. But the Planning Commission last week approved the applicant's request to reduce that number, he said.
The encroachment agreement between JAYA Investments and Crescent City only allows the applicant to develop the parking lot, according to Taylor. JAYA is responsible for maintaining the parking lot. The encroachment agreement expires in three years.
Taylor said a public parking lot on the south end of town will benefit the businesses at that end of the city, including other restaurants and motels.
"Entering into the agreement will allow the property owner to expand a local business," he said. "Hopefully the expansion brings more people to the area, adds a few jobs. It benefits everybody all the way around. It's a win-win situation."
Councilwoman Kelly Schellong asked Taylor what will happen if the spaces are so full of people there for public parking that there's no room for the hotel's guests.
"When you drive down there right now and if the hotel is full, or even if it's not, it's hard to find a parking spot just to go have lunch," she said. "I end up having to park in a hotel spot to have lunch so I was worried about that affecting their business."
She also asked if a coastal development permit would be required.
That permit was addressed when JAYA obtained its development permit from the city, Taylor said. The scarcity of parking for hotel guests may primarily be an issue during the summer. The number of additional spaces JAYA is required to add is based on the number of new rooms it plans to build and the additional square footage at the restaurant, Taylor said.
"There's going to be ample parking," he said. "I don't foresee that there will be a problem."
Councilman Ron Gastineau said he and Schellong were just looking out for the business owner.
"We want to make sure the hotel owner knows what he's getting into," he said.
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