|By Amy Banton, Aiken Standard,
S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 12, 2011--Aiken City Council reviewed and unanimously approved the development project of a new hotel Monday evening.
The Extended Stay Suites would prospectively be constructed on Monterey Drive off Whiskey Road adjacent to the Sleep Inn hotel.
The project was presented to Council on Monday for their review and approval; the proposed development included a traffic study.
According to the City's traffic management ordinance, a traffic study was necessary for the development since it involved traffic levels on Whiskey Road and requires it be referred to City Council for final determination.
According to that traffic study conducted by SRS Engineering Inc., the new four-story, 100 room hotel would have small to minimal impact on traffic operations on Whiskey Road and its intersections. It would have little effect on the service levels as it would add an average of 300 cars to the total existing traffic per day.
Whether or not the hotel is built, the level of service on Whiskey Road will still be low and could even decrease, the report reads.
Councilman Dick Dewar said the congestion on Whiskey Road has been a frustration of his ever since he joined Council, and he wished there was some sort of long-range plan in place to address the issue before it becomes so bad it's impossible to fix.
Dewar added that he supports new business, but he would like to see more effort put toward alleviating the congestion on Whiskey Road.
Councilman Don Wells said the City has made an effort to relieve congestion, citing the construction and plans for several connector roads such as the Pawnee/Neilson Connector. He said those plans are not being considered when the traffic studies are conducted.
Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said he doesn't see the traffic on Whiskey Road as a problem.
"I'm glad to see traffic because it means people are buying something," Cavanaugh said. "It helps our taxes be low; it helps a lot of things."
Councilwoman Lessie Price stated that she doesn't have much concern for the traffic but rather bringing in more businesses that will offer jobs to residents.
"People are hungry. They need jobs, and they need to work," Price said.
The Extended Stay Suites would offer around 20 to 30 new jobs, according to Neel Shah with NMR Hospitality.
Shah added that this type of hotel is for people making longer trips and the average stay is five nights. With the kitchen features in each room, they have the option of eating at home rather than going out to dinner, which assists with the minimal amount of cars that will be added to the traffic levels if this facility is constructed.
Shah added that if all goes well, he'd like to see the hotel up and running by spring of 2013.
In other business:
-- The second reading of an ordinance to advance $1 million in Capital Sales Tax funds by a reserve fund loan for the SPCA jointly-owned shelter construction was unanimously approved.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Aiken Standard, S.C.
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