Thursday, June 15, 2023–6:54 p.m.
-Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune-
The Rome-Floyd Board of Adjustments approved the variance requests for a hotel project in the Five Points area of North Rome by a 4-0 vote Thursday, despite opposition during a packed meeting.
Multiple members of nearby Thankful Missionary Baptist Church spoke out against the project, stating the development of the property would deny them the use of it as a secondary parking lot for the church.
“We are not opposed to the hotel or the growth of Rome,” Deacon Robert Owens said. “However, we feel their variance request should not be granted. They should abide by the rules.”
The church identifies itself on its website as “the first African American church in Northwest Georgia.” It was started in 1863 and the building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places.
However, several people spoke in favor of the hotel, noting that Rome is in desperate need of hotel rooms since several motels on Martha Berry have shut down in recent years.
“This is a ‘do or die’ situation in terms of hotel rooms for us,” said Coosa Valley Tennis Association President Dave Dawson. “We are going to start to lose tournaments unless we get more rooms soon.”
Other people spoke in favor of the hotel, including Rome’s tourism director Lisa Smith, noting that potential owner Sam Patel runs another hotel in Rome and has been an excellent owner.
Patel was asking for a variance decreasing the setbacks on most sides of the property. He also sought an increase in the allowable height from 45 feet to 64 feet, for a fifth floor and more rooms.
The added rooms increased the number of parking spaces required, which drove the request for a zoning variance.
A lawyer for the project, Joel Larkin, defended the request for additional rooms, stating that increased construction and staffing costs made the project impossible without the additional floor of rooms.
“It sounds like we’re asking for a lot, but we’re really not,” Larkin said. “We’re really trying to help Rome with their lack of hotel rooms.”
Additionally, Larkin said that Patel would be willing to give up the right to a piece of property currently used as an access road to the church from Spider Webb Drive. That move would allow for additional church parking.
Also on Thursday, the board approved a variance request to reduce the required setback for part of the former GE property on Redmond Circle.
The applicant, Cobb Industrial Inc., was seeking to reduce the setback from 100 feet to 60 feet.
The parcel of land is 12.6 acres. The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority board approved the sale, at $50,000 an acre, for commercial and warehouse space at the location.
Consisting of a large parking area and leveled fields bordering Redmond Circle, the site is near the intersection with Garden Lakes Boulevard and Mathis Drive.
The applicant is in the process of purchasing and subdividing that property. They asked for the variance because the depth of the property does not allow room for vehicle turning movements unless the set back is reduced.
This story is possible because of a news-sharing agreement with the Rome News-Tribune. More information can be found at northwestgeorgianews.com: