Council to consider site specific zoning amendment to permit a two-storey motel development

by Sylene Argent

Pictured is a rendering of the proposed Grove Motor Inn, which was provided through the Town of Essex through a report on the matter. 

On Monday evening, Essex Council participated in a special meeting, where they were informed about a proposed site specific zoning amendment for 96 County Road 50 West. Potential developers wish to include a hotel option as a permitted use to the existing R3.1 zoning.

  The property zoning change is to permit a two-storey motel development with 28 guest units.

  Director of Development Services, Lori Chadwick, explained that the R3.1 zoning allows for high density residential, which permits such uses as: a five to six storey apartment building, residential care facility, group home, or lodging house. Through the site specific zoning amendment proposed, the idea is to add a hotel to the list of uses.

  Monday’s statutory meeting was held to inform members of Council about the matter, and hear public feedback. They will make a decision at the June 21 regular meeting, which could include either approving, deferring, or denying the request.

  The applicant is D.C. McCloskey Engineering Limited for the proposed Grove Motor Inn.

“The proposal can be seen one as one that provides a positive impact on the local economy and could enhance visitor accommodations,” Chadwick said, adding tourism and accommodation opportunities for the Colchester Beach and Harbour and for wineries in the area have been sought.

“This is an opportunity to draw upon the long-standing success of the Grove business brand to offer a unique boutique motel. The proponents currently operate the Grove Hotel in Kingsville, and previously approached Essex Council about a development idea for the Village of Colchester, which included adding 14 short-term stay units, and renovating the Colchester Schoolhouse, as an extension of the Kingsville-based operation.

After public feedback about their first proposal, the developers returned to Council with the Grove Motor Inn idea for the vacant land, which measures 3749 square-meters, located at 96 County Road 50 West. The property is currently owned by the Town of Essex and used for overflow parking for the Colchester Beach and Marina.

There is access to municipal water and sanitary and storm sewers at the site.

Chadwick spoke of Town’s Official Plan and the Colchester Secondary Plan, which establishes a cohesive vision and planning framework for the area to ensure balanced and sustainable future growth. She added, the site is designated in the “Main Street Area,” which permits roofed accommodations, hotels, motels, and inns.

Throughout the meeting, Chadwick spoke of policy framework at the municipal, county, and provincial levels.

Public concerns brought to the Town on the matter, Chadwick explained, included: traffic increases, lack of public parking, loss of greenspace, loss of residential opportunities, strain on municipal infrastructure, loss of lake view, noise generation, and the architectural style of the proposed facility.

Chadwick addressed public concerns, noting the applicant submitted a landscaping plan in hopes the property can be considered aesthetic and provide greening and beautification, and a stormwater plan and functional servicing study for the lot are being evaluated by the Town and Stantec Engineering. Site plan approval would not be granted until the plan and study results are satisfactory. She added that the building setback is proposed to be six meters, to create enhanced public space.

There is also a plan to provide a mural at the site, which she said is a gateway into the village, to mark entry into Colchester. The Town and the developer will work on this project together, possibly bringing the Arts, Tourism, and Culture (ACT) Committee on board to help.  

  Councillor Joe Garon had concerns about parking, since the site is currently used as an overflow lot and the area already has had parking issues. Director of Community Services/Deputy CAO, Doug Sweet, said this will reduce municipal parking slots in the area from 343 to 275. There is also parking on the street.

  Chadwick also spoke of submitted studies conducted for the site, including for stormwater management and a traffic memorandum, which found that a motel development would marginally increase vehicle trips to Colchester without impact on safe operation of the roadway or the adjacent CWATS system.

  Council heard from concerned residents during the meeting, who still had concerns about traffic, noise at night, the potential devaluing of property values in the area, and parking in the area. There was also concern about the property formerly being a gas station.

  Chadwick noted the Town is aware of the former use. There is an abandoned storm sewer and may be an abandoned underground storage tank on the property, but there is no record of that. Ground penetrating radar and soil sampling will take place.

  Mayor Larry Snively noted the delegations’ feedback would be considered when making a decision on the matter on June 21. He said the proponents are good developers.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy would like to earmark the funds earned from the sale of the property to look for land acquisition to mitigate parking concerns in the future.

  Council received the presentation.