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Red Bluff Hotel project will get a second chance

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

At their most recent meeting, Planning Commissioners took the unusual step of rescinding their previous vote on the planned Red Bluff Hotel.

The vote to rescind was unanimous, though commissioners made it clear that they may not support the variance upon reconsideration.

Red Bluff Partners LLC was asking for three variances in order to construct a hotel at 4701 Red Bluff Road. The last time Planning Commissioners heard the case, they granted two of the variances, but were split evenly on the third, which would allow the developer to build on the primary setback.

At the request of Red Bluff Partners, the commission voted to deny the variance outright to ensure the developer’s right of appeal to City Council, but that wasn’t its preference. But, like the commission, Red Bluff reconsidered this tack.

Commissioner Brian Roark said the commission’s earlier tie-breaking decision was made by default, and was “just from a philosophical, procedural perspective” should it reconsider the variance.

“(The developer and neighbors) were on agreement on two out of three things. We were, actually, so close that the action we made was by default,” said Roark. “If there’s some chance with a new presentation that they could come together or that someone on this commission could change their mind … I think they should at least be given an opportunity.”

Some neighbors may be more difficult to convince than others.

David Moriarty said he would like the commission to vote to reconsider and reject all three variances. That, however, was not up for discussion on Tuesday night.

“We need to support the protections for our waterfront,” said Moriarty. “If we don’t support them so that they give a message to the community that’s clear, then we have to go through this again.”

Other neighbors, including River Bluff Neighborhood Association president Daniel Llanes, also spoke against rescinding the previous vote.

Armbrust & Brown attorney Richard Suttle explained the request for reconsideration and presented the required new information to the Planning Commission. He explained that Red Bluff had filed an appeal to Council, but the original decision seemed to involve a lot of confusion.

“Quite frankly, we would rather have your recommendation. We would like the opportunity to earn it,” said Suttle. “The way that City Council is moving around, they are sending things back to a committee, and there’s talk the committee can then send information back to you.

“The appropriate place to air out all the information so that the Council has good information is here,” he continued.

Suttle showed diagrams of the existing warehouse, as well as a diagram of a remodel that used that building and the existing footprint to build the hotel. He also showed a diagram of where the proposed hotel and parking would encroach into the waterfront overlay.

“These are documents that you guys didn’t have that more fully describe the situation,” said Suttle. “If y’all would bear with us and let us present you more information than you had at the first hearing, then we can have a better understanding and a better discussion.

“We’re begging for one more shot, based on more information,” said Suttle.

Llanes said he hoped the commission wouldn’t reconsider its earlier decision.

Commissioners will reconsider the case at their Feb. 25 meeting.

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