Tonight’s DeKalb City Council meeting went according to plan for developers and business owners, but left some local residents disappointed.
Despite vocal opposition by residents of The Knolls subdivision and two aldermen, the DeKalb City Council voted to approve a zoning change enabling the construction of a proposed Home2 Suites Hilton Hotel along South Annie Glidden Road. The matter will come up for a second reading at the next city council meeting.
The City Council also voted in favor of authorizing a packaged liquor license and video gaming license for a proposed development on West Lincoln Highway by Haymaker Enterprises, the corporation run by Fatty’s owner, Jeff Dobie. The new drive-thru liquor establishment would be at 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, directly across the road from Fatty’s.
While the Resolutions for the future liquor store and separate video gaming facility passed with only mild opposition to the drive-thru concept and more gambling in the City, the Home2 Suites zoning change drew a room full of emotional opponents. Three current Knolls residents objected to the development for several reasons, including traffic, flooding and property value concerns. Having a “transient population” directly across from a playground was also mentioned as a problem with the location of the extended stay hotel.
Most notably, the location of the four-story, 90 room hotel so close to single-family homes drew the ire of both the residents and former DeKalb Mayor, Bessie Chronopoulos, who lamented that the city is “pushing [residents] out of their homes.” Chronopoulos said that DeKalb needs more single-family homes occupied, and they should consider another location where the hotel is better suited. The developer countered that all of the other sites in DeKalb were rejected by Hilton and that the proposed site was desired because of its close proximity to I-88.
Two of the community residents who spoke said they would not have purchased their homes had they known the zoning change would be made from Light Commercial (LC) to the proposed Planned Development Commercial (PD-C). At least one said she would move out of the neighborhood if the hotel were built.
Sixth-Ward Alderman, Mike Verbic, who was one of the dissenting votes on behalf of his constituents, expressed his worry that if the hotel fails down the road they could end up with another Travel Inn—a vacant hotel that is also in his Verbic’s Sixth Ward.
Despite the objections, the vote went in favor of the development, with only Verbic and David Jacobson saying, “Nay.”
Alderman Marquardt expressed his frustration with the opposition to a “quality product” like Home2 Suites, and the “constant talking to death over things with nothing getting accomplished,” before casting his vote of approval.
Ultimately, the opportunity to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of “desperately-needed [tax] revenue” helped convince Alderman Kate Noreiko and the rest of the City Council to allow the development to move forward.