The controversial development that puts a Fairfield Inn on the corner of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue, nixed by the Planning Commission 5-0 and rejected by more than 500 petition-signing residents, got a 3-2 go-ahead from City Council July 21.
The Southern Development project was in front of council a few weeks ago, and a decision on a rezoning amendment was postponed when the developer said residential wasn’t a necessary component in the mixed-use parcel. Later, Charlie Armstrong admitted he was mistaken about the residential portion being optional.
City Councilor Dede Smith, who was one of the “no” votes along with Bob Fenwick, isn’t reassured. Her concern is that if Marriott buys the entire parcel, it could decide to never build the residential portion on Ridge Street.
For resident Kim Lauter, the decision was disappointing and she says not supportive of the historic neighborhood. “It should be a wonderful gateway to the city,” she says. “Instead it’s a chain hotel that could be on any corner in America.
City Councilor Kathy Galvin, who is running for reelection, called the “insinuation that people can be bought and sold” for accepting donations from the Monticello Business Alliance, a developer-heavy PAC that includes Southern Development, “character assassination.” She noted that the $500 donation she got from the group was public record, and a small portion of the $17,000 she raised. Candidates Wes Bellamy and Mike Signer also received $500 donations from the group.