Approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) cleared the way for the Town Plan and Zoning Commissioners to welcome a new extended stay hotel to town. The application to build a Homewood Suites hotel at the site of the proposed train station on Marsh Hill Road was originally denied in June because the board questioned whether the plan had the adequate road frontage required in the zoning regulations and if a variance from ZBA would be necessary.
The proposal, submitted by the Hartford Lodging Partners, LLC for the Estate of Dominic F. Farina, Trustee, calls for the construction of a four-story extended stay hotel owned by the Hilton hotel group on property know as 99 Marsh Hill Road. ZBA ruled the application demonstrated adequate road frontage without a variance and signed off on the project. In a previous TPZC meeting, engineers and attorneys for the applicant argued that the state had taken property by imminent domain for the construction of I-95 and frontage was present along the exit ramp to Marsh Hill Road.
The hotel plans include an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, gym and a “flex-space area” with removable doors that could be used for either dining or meeting areas. All areas of the hotel will only be accessible to hotel guests; no space within the property would be available for outside rental.
A petition of support with 35 signatures and a letter of endorsement from Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Annemarie Sliby, were submitted to the board during the public hearing. Several townspeople spoke in favor of the project, stating it would bring jobs to the area, expand the tax coffers and provide a much needed base for out-of-town cancer patients and their families who receive treatment at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center.
The only one to speak against the project was attorney Chris Smith of Shipman and Goodwin who represents Orange Hotel LLC, aka the Marriot Hotel, on Marsh Hill Road. Smith contends the application does not meet the TPZC’s minimum requirements in the zone which mandates any hotel must designate at least 2,000 square feet of dedicated conference or banquet room space. Smith maintained that the proposal’s description of banquet/meeting “flex-space” does not fulfill the zoning requirement of dedicated conference space. He also added, “I would be remiss if I did not also point out to the commission that there is no frontage on I-95.”
Construction on the hotel is expected to begin by fall.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent