Gardendale – Emotions were high in a Gardendale City Hall meeting room with over 60 concerned citizens packed in the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting that would be a major factor in whether a new hotel would be approved just over the Mount Olive border in the Gardendale city limits.
With 8 Commission members seated at the meeting, Chairman Jack Fields recognized James Cassidy from Insite Engineering who was representing Wyndham and La Quinta Gardendale, LLC who own the property and have plans to build a La Quinta hotel on the 2.3 acre property at 2301 Mount Olive Road.
According to Cassidy, Wyndham will invest almost 9 million dollars in the project.
With a site plan in place, Cassidy was at the public hearing to answer questions about the development and request the Commission approve the property for a “Conditional Use” that would clear the way for a new hotel at the property that is just off I-65 and in close proximity to the new Bill Noble Park.
While the property is currently owned by and being developed by Wyndham, Cassidy noted that there may eventually be an owner/operator for the hotel that would need to be trained.
Several concerned homeowners came to the podium to raise issues with the proposed hotel.
The concerns ranged from whether the hotel would be on a sewer or septic system (sewer), increased crime, parking and traffic, to what many believed will be a hotel with a lower room rate as opposed to other brands that may attract a different occupant.
When asked about increased criminal activity to the area if the hotel is built, Cassidy expressed that Gardendale has a strong police presence. He further added that good owners don’t allow those types of issues.
Cassidy was questioned again on crime and security issues and as he reiterated his belief that Gardendale has a strong presence with its police force, he drew a vocal response from several in attendance that expressed that a strong police presence in the area has not been their experience.
Increased crime was a major concern for the citizens in the meeting, with one homeowner stating that crime is steadily increasing in Gardendale, using Bill Noble Park as an example.
Cassidy was the focal point for questions from those in attendance.
Emotions flared when Chairman Fields called for a vote and all 8 members voted to approve the “Conditional Use” request and paved the way for a new La Quinta hotel.
Most of those in attendance got up to leave after the vote and before the meeting ended and were vocal upon leaving. Some expressed that they did not believe that their views were really considered during the meeting.
RESULT: Unanimous Vote to Approve