A new hotel can build closer to Flat Creek in Gainesville than normally allowed but not to the extent that was first planned.
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board voted Tuesday night to approve applicant Aneesh Patel’s request to build inside the usually required 75-foot buffer protecting Flat Creek.
But new plans for the Marriott TownePlace Suites showed less encroachment.
Patel originally asked the city to allow building the hotel up to 25 feet from the creek, a historically troubled waterway that flows into Lake Lanier.
Tuesday night, Brian Kimsey, a representative for Patel, presented a revised plan showing a 50-foot buffer, an area that would include a “rain garden” that should help block runoff into the stream.
As part of the change, the hotel was reduced in size to 12,000 square feet from 14,000 square feet.
“This was a compromise we could live with,” Kimsey said of the revised plans.
The board didn’t discuss the proposal, but it gave its OK on the basis the developer meets standards in the revised plan.
The vote affirmed the recommendation of city planning staff, which had said it was OK with the development as long as the developer provides “a detailed landscape mitigation plan for the disturbed area within the 75-foot stream buffer,” documents state.
Patel is proposing a four- to six-story hotel that would be nestled in a corner lot just south of Fairfield Inn and Suites and Hilton Garden Inn, which are behind a row of restaurants off Browns Bridge Road, west of Pearl Nix Parkway.
Area residents have said they are concerned about the project, as Flat Creek has a history of pollution and water quality issues and has been long monitored by Gainesville.
Gainesville resident Pat Horgan told the planning board he opposed “any variance on any stream that ends in Lake Lanier.”
Flat Creek “is probably one of the most polluted streams in all of Georgia, already,” he said. “I don’t know where you draw the line, but I would think it would be here.
“If the hotel can’t be built without the variance, I’d suggest it’s not suited for this property.”