A conceptual site plan for a proposed 78-room hotel was met with mixed reviews when it was presented at a June 19 Georgetown Planning Commission meeting.
The three-acre parcel, also known as the old Southern States property, is located at the southeast corner of Old Laurel Road and U.S. Route 113. Beacon Hospitality II plans to construct a four-story, 44-foot high Microtel Inn on the property.
Project Engineer Keith Cooker, of Landmark Science & Engineering, said the plan includes a 25-foot fire lane that circles the facility, one entrance on Old Laurel Road, town water and sewer services, and 84 parking spaces, one per room and extra spaces for employees.
Project Manager Bob Ruggio, of Beacon Hospitality II, added the hotel would have a small meeting room, as well as a dining area where a daily continental breakfast will be served. There is no kitchen, he said.
Commission Chair Rodney Marvel said he’s concerned the hotel’s patrons may attempt to walk across U.S. Route 113 to get food, and he’d like to see conversations begin with the Delaware Department of Transportation regarding a pedestrian crossing.
“If Dover Downs kills a couple [people] a year, people cry across the highway,” Marvel said. “I don’t want to see that happen here.”
Resident Tony Semeraro, who lives in the Village of Cinderberry, said the proposed location of the hotel is next to an un-built portion of his development.
“There are still 30 more units to be built and we’ve had an extremely busy spring with new sales and re-sales,” Semeraro said. “The problem with this particular concept is you have a [very tall] building of fairly sufficient mass that is now overlooking a residential area. Those homes will be going for around a quarter of a million dollars. I don’t know of anyone who wants to buy their dream retirement home and look up at this hotel, which is looking down at you.”
Semeraro also said he does not disagree that Georgetown is in need of another hotel; however, Microtel is of a lower price point and has no banquet area, reception area or conference meeting facility.
“It would be better if we had a hotel that had more of those amenities instead of more people,” he said, adding his final concern is there may not be enough open space between the hotel and the Village of Cinderberry for an adequate landscape buffer.
Ruggio said Beacon Hospitality II has every intention of planting a proper landscape buffer.
“We do plan to be good neighbors and do whatever we can to protect the neighbors around us,” he added.
Page 2 of 2 - Cooker confirmed he has no plans to request a variance that would have the proposal deviate from a Town Code requirement stating no main building in a highway commercial district may be located closer than 100 feet from a single-family residential building in a residential zoning district.
Resident Claudius Bowden, a member of the Possum Point Players, whose facility is located on Old Laurel Road, said his company welcomes the hotel.
“We think it’s a great idea,” Bowden said. “It could get more patrons into our theater.”
Sussex County Deputy Administrator Hal Godwin said the county is not opposed to the plan, but officials are concerned the additional traffic on Old Laurel Road may block access to U.S. Route 113 for emergency responders stationed at Medic Unit 108 on neighboring Mulberry Street.
“Of course, when a paramedic unit responds, it’s in emergency mode with red lights and sirens because we need to get to U.S. Route 113 as quickly as we can,” Godwin said. “It’s very important to us that Old Laurel Road is kept open, with no parking for loading trucks, trash trucks, patrons or buses.”
Jocelyn Godwin of the Georgetown Planning Department said traffic concerns will be taken into consideration prior to final approval.
Ruggio said everyone’s input will be reviewed and they will return to the commission with a final plan for preliminary site approval. Final approval is done administratively, through the Planning Department.