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Extended debate on proposed extended-stay hotel in Oakwood finally ends
01162020 OAKHOTEL 1
Candlewood Suites, an extended-stay hotel chain, has proposed building a 5-story, 87-room hotel on this site in Oakwood near Mundy Mill Road and Interstate 985. - photo by Jeff Gill

An extended-stay hotel proposal finally has been approved in Oakwood.

Ten months after Duluth-based Detroit Lender LLC’s proposal first went before city officials, a five-story, 87-room Candlewood Suites was approved by the Oakwood City Council Monday, Dec. 14.

The hotel would be on 1.48 acres at 3783 Mundy Mill Drive, behind Best Western Plus Lake Lanier Gainesville Hotel & Suites and near Mundy Mill Road and Interstate 985.

Detroit Lender was seeking to change zoning from single-family residential and neighborhood business to highway business.

The vote was 3-2, with council members Todd Wilson, Pat Jones and Sheri Millwood in favor and councilmen Stephen Hendrix and Dwight Wood opposed.

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In two separate actions, Wilson and Millwood made motions to approve the hotel on the condition that the hotel brand name not change.

The issue first came up in February, when the council voted to deny rezoning.

At the time, officials said the project didn’t fit the comprehensive land-use plan’s “character area,” or vision for how an area could develop. The city’s 2017 land-use plan gives a look at how different areas of the city might look in 20 years.  

On Aug. 10, Oakwood City Council agreed to Detroit Lender LLC’s request to change the area, including the proposed hotel site on the land-use plan from residential to commercial, opening the door for the company to pursue the hotel. 

The planning board recommended approval of the project in two votes – rezoning the property and allowing the extended-stay hotel as a special use for the property. 

A measure passed by the city in June allows extended-stay hotels but with restrictions, including that lodging in a room would be allowed for up to 15 consecutive days and a total of 30 days during a 180-day period. Those restrictions have some exceptions, including insurance proof showing a person or people have been displaced from their home because of a disaster, such as a fire.  

And a hotel is considered extended stay if more than 5% of its rooms have fixed cooking appliances and a kitchen, according to the city’s rules.

A final rezoning vote was set to come up in November but then was postponed until December.