City turns away initial hotel proposal
Prineville City Councilors revisited the Meadow Lakes hotel proposal Tuesday evening after taking public feedback earlier in the month.
Their plan is to follow the recommendation of Facility Manager Zach Lampert and City Manager Steve Forrester and choose not to move forward with the proposal as currently presented.
Fairway Suites, a company that partners with existing hotel chains to build lodging facilities on golf course properties, approached Lampert and City of Prineville leaders this past spring. They proposed building a 70-room hotel on a 30,000-square-foot portion of unused land adjacent to the Meadow Lakes parking lot. The limited-use facility would not feature its own restaurant and would instead lean on Meadow Lakes Restaurant to feed customers.
Because the municipally owned restaurant has regularly faced financial struggles, the proposal intrigued Lampert and Forrester enough to further investigate what Fairway Suites was offering and present their findings to the public.
City officials held a meeting at Meadow Lakes Restaurant earlier this month where they presented the proposal and what they had learned about the Fairway Suites business model as well as anticipated impact to traffic.
Nearly everyone who spoke at the session expressed concerns about a variety of topics, including traffic impact, potential for increased noise or criminal activity, impact to property values and to back yard privacy.
Tuesday evening, Lampert rehashed the proposal and what steps Fairway Suites wanted to take next.
"Currently, Fairway Suites is at the point where they are looking for direction from the city," he explained in front of a larger-than-normal city council meeting audience. "What they would like is a green light from the city in order to start a deeper due diligence to confirm whether or not a hotel would work for this area, and also determine what brand of hotel would best fit."
Lampert added that he and Forrester discussed the situation, and based upon the feedback from the previous public meeting, they determined that many more questions needed answered before proceeding with the proposal.
"Some of those questions include: Are there other options for other locations for the hotel on the property?" he said. "Are their traffic calming devices that could be implemented? Are there impacts to the property values? Are there sewer upgrades that would need to be addressed? Are there options for any secondary access routes in and out of the facility?"
Since Lampert and Forrester concluded that the community would not support the current version of the proposal, they recommended that the council direct them to respond to Fairway Suites with the following message:
"The current proposed project is not supported by the community. At this time, the City of Prineville is not willing to consider zone changes through planning to facilitate this project."
The message would include the questions and concerns raised by the public and ask Fairway Suites to "advise the City of Prineville if (they) would like to have discussions addressing these concerns and finding alternatives that would be substantial enough to take back to the community for further consideration."
All of the councilors — except for Steve Uffelman, who declared a personal conflict of interest — agreed with the recommended response and directed city staff to move forward with it. Councilors also expressed their views on the proposal as it currently exists and what they would like to see change.
"I like the idea of co-locating a hotel on Meadow Lakes property," stated Jeff Papke, who did not attend the meeting but submitted a letter read by Mayor Betty Roppe. "I do not like the current proposed location within the property. I would support sending the current proposal back to Fairway Suites to address the concerns the community expressed in the meeting along with a request to provide other possible locations to place the hotel on the property."
Gail Merritt likewise prefers a different hotel location, suggesting that there is "property on Main Street that could feed into the Meadow Lakes parking, not necessarily by driving but maybe by golf cart or something."
Meadow Lakes area residents in the audience later spoke about the proposal. Jan Uffelman said the only way she would consider approving the proposal is if the hotel was located away from the neighborhood and accessible from a separate private entrance.
Paul Peterson, another resident, said he and fellow neighbors have discussed the proposal since the public meeting and oppose the hotel for several reasons. He noted that a sewer upgrade might be necessary and traffic would become a problem if the hotel is built.
"It is really frightening to think about the additional traffic that would be on Meadow Lakes Drive," he remarked.
Roppe concluded the council meeting by noting that city leaders will now wait to see how Fairway Suites responds to the city's requests. She determined that it might result in some new proposed alternatives or put an end to the idea entirely.
"We certainly will look at other options," she said. "Maybe it just will not work. We'll see."