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Route 9 Hotel Application Underway With Howell Zoning Board

Traffic concerns raised at first meeting

At Monday's meeting of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment the table was set for what could be an extensive and contentious hearing for a hotel at the intersection of Route 9 and Northwoods Place.

Applicant Leonard Solondz told board members he was not able to secure a major brand for a hotel on Route 9 until there was some assurance the application would be approved.

"No one wants to engage until they know that the town is willing to accept a hotel use on this site," he said. "Past history on this site has given everyone a moment's pause."

Zoning Board Chairman Stephen Stephen Meier said granting such an assurance was unlikely.

"That's a hard thing for the board to overcome, considering approval of something that we don't really know what we're getting," he said. "We want to make sure whatever comes in is going to be viable."

During questioning from his attorney, Solondz said he has been involved in finding a use for the property since 1988 and has made several proposals over that time that have been denied by the township's boards. This latest application, he said, takes into account reviews and questions that arose during previous applications.

Solondz said the current application calls strictly for a four story, 109-room hotel, a 200-seat restaurant and a 400-seat conference and banquet facility.

"I listened to what the zoning board came back with in terms of feedback and what the township is looking for in terms of having a conference center that offered banquet facilities and a restaurant," he said. "I thought this would be responsible."

Even before the current application reached the board, steps had been taken to prepare it for a hearing. Meier said he had approached Board Engineer Jack Mallon with the idea of moving the entrance and exit onto Northwoods Place rather than Route 9 or nearby Route 195. Discussions with the applicant, the DEP and the DOT took close to a year before the needed approvals for the plan were given. 

As for the design of the hotel itself, even with no operator signed on it was based on "design criteria used for national operators," according to Solondz.

"We're not working in a vacuum or shooting in the dark," he said. "We don't want to waste anyone's time."

During his testimony the applicant also discussed other ways the property could have been used that would not have required variances from the zoning board including building another shopping center on Route 9.

"I don't know that this is something the town would want or really need at this point," he said. "I don't think it is the highest and best use of this site."

He said office space is also an option for the space but he believed the hotel would be in everyone's best interests.

"It meets what I believe is a need in this municipality," he said. "I believe it will go a long way in attracting business and attracting travelers. And I would hope it's designed in such a way that it's a real benefit to the township of Howell."

Zoning Board members and professionals requested the applicant submit an updated traffic study that would include alternatives to the hotel proposal.

"This is a very big issue for the town," Meier said. "It's going to be a very hot issue for the town. We want to make sure whichever way the board votes is based on the information that you put in front of us."

The hearing for the application is scheduled to continue on March 25. 

Property Taxed 2 Death February 01, 2013 at 05:11 AM
part 2 then look at the storm drains they put in AT THE TOPS OF THE HILL!!!!!!!!!! Duh! they belong at the bottom where IT ACTUALLY FLOODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not up the road where it NEVER Flooded before, and no, the drains up the road do not help stop the flooding at the bottom by the rear of the Farm Market Not up the road where it NEVER Flooded before, and no, the drains up the road do not help stop the flooding at the bottom by the rear of the Farm Market . Oh and those drains have been clogged since soon after they were put in , because the Township is too busy mowing lawns and cleaning up the parks that almost no one uses instead of taking care of the roads.
Property Taxed 2 Death February 01, 2013 at 05:18 AM
we have a Motel, the Moon Motel whose sign oddly has what looks like 2 giant vibrators on it. The one across the highway became business units , but there's still another small motel in Freewood Acres just north of this proposed Hotel. As far as I see it, it's a good cheap ratable that will be a good addition IF Howell gets the traffic lights at Aldrich retimed to make traffic flow better
Property Taxed 2 Death February 01, 2013 at 05:20 AM
forgot to add Howell uses the traffic jams there as a cash cow, setting up cops by Taco Bell to give tickets to drivers who drive on the shoulder to get to the traffic light and make a right turn . Shame on those drivers for being so stupid they don't see the reason they should wait 20 minutes to make a legal Right on red turn. It seems every engineer working for Howell or the DOT designs of approves any road work it's done poorly and with the logic of a 10 day old lobotomized retarded brain dead chimpanzee stoned on crack. Jughandles are poorly designed, catch basins don't work, roads flood, traffic congestion is severe etc etc etc. examples are Aldrich Rd., The light at Walmart, timed poorly and the side streets lanes that had to be desiged by someone who could never have graduated 4th grade, the horribly designed jug handle at Lowes, floods at the intersections of Ford & Church Rds & at Ford & Kent Rds. thanks to approvals for raised septic systems at those corners, & lets not ignore the recent paving of Ford Rd that as is apparently again without common sense to NOT level and pave the dangerous road between Kent and Rte 9. Driving in your lane is suicidal at best and then look at the section that was repaved but is bumpy and poorly graded, then look at the storm drains they put in AT THE TOPS OF THE HILL!!!!!!!!!! Duh! they belong at the bottom where IT ACTUALLY FLOODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lisa February 01, 2013 at 12:55 PM
MomsThoughts should be named MomsWisdom! Great point. Fix the roads for the future traffic burden first, then consider the building. It's like putting the cart before the horse. Does anyone know if the Howell governing body has a plan in place for this traffic area?
Paul February 16, 2013 at 04:30 PM
A 109 room property is SMALL! Don't let 4 stories scare you into thinking it is large. The traffic caused by a hotel of that size with the exception of exiting banquets won't even touch the volume of traffic bought by Walmart, Lowes, Pathmark and the list goes on and on. This hotel could be a great rateable and is certainly needed more than another empty shopping center or office building. If any of you think the existing hotels/motels in Howell actually offer an alternative to lodging in Howell, feel free to stay at one of them. I won't!

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