|By Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune,
Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 08, 2012--Duluth-based ZMC Hotels has dropped plans to build a new hotel on Maple Grove Road in the face of public opposition to its request for a zoning change.
The zoning request was in keeping with Duluth's comprehensive plan and a small-area plan that examined the future use of land near Miller Hill Mall, said David Montgomery, Duluth's chief administrative officer.
ZMC sought to have a parcel of property at 1102 Maple Grove Road rezoned from
single-family R-1 residential to mixed-use-neighborhood -- a change that would have made it possible to build a hotel on the site potentially followed by a neighboring restaurant.
Those plans were opposed by some residential neighbors and 4th District City Councilor Garry Krause, who represents the area.
Keith Hamre, Duluth's Planning Department director, informed the Duluth City Council at a Thursday night agenda session meeting that ZMC had backed off plans for the multi-million-dollar project in light of the zoning dispute.
Council President Dan Hartman expressed remorse, saying: "It's unfortunate we could not go ahead with the project that was proposed. It would have been a boon for our tax base."
Montgomery said ZMC's experience reinforces negative impressions that Duluth is not a welcoming place for developers to do business.
"Something like this really gives developers pause," Montgomery said. "We can't afford to lose a lot of tax-base growth opportunities like this as a city."
Even though ZMC has abandoned its plans for the property, Hamre said the city plans to schedule a neighborhood meeting in July to discuss plans to rezone it to mixed use-neighborhood, in keeping with Duluth's comprehensive plan. Hamre said the area had been identified as a transition zone between a highly commercialized district and a residential area on the other side of Maple Grove Road.
Krause asked what it would take to maintain the R-1 residential zoning status of the property, and Hamre said the city Planning Commission probably would need to modify its comprehensive plan in order to ensure the status quo.
(c)2012 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)
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