City says hotel must pay for alley

By Tim Weideman

Bluemont Hotel developer Excel Group won’t be getting help from neighboring property owners in funding improvements for the alley that runs behind the hotel.

On Tuesday, the Manhattan City Commission unanimously rejected a petition from the developer that would have required property owners from North Manhattan Avenue to North 12th Street between Bluemont Avenue and Vattier Street that share the alley to help pay through a benefit district.

According to the petition, property owners would have split $122,000 in special assessments to fund the work. The alley will need the improvements because it will lead to the hotel’s parking garage and provide delivery access.

“We oppose this because we don’t think we should have to pay for something that we don’t need and we didn’t ask for,” Delbert Smith said to the commission.

Smith was one of four property owners who spoke Tuesday night.

Attorney Bernard Irvine was present representing other property owners.

“It does not benefit the other people in the area,” Irvine said.

But Excel Group representative Andy Suber disagreed, saying the alley’s condition would be improved. The owners have access to their properties from the alley.

Suber said the company’s petition contained signatures from a majority of the owners.

The margin was slim.

“Simple majorities are not something I’m very comfortable with,” Commissioner Usha Reddi said, adding that she wouldn’t be happy with the situation if she were in the opposed property owners’ positions. Excel would pay for most of the alley’s improvements.

“We have a majority that says we all should shoulder this cost,” Suber said. “I’m obviously in agreement with that. (Excel is) shouldering the vast majority.”

He also argued that values of nearby properties would increase as a result of the improvements.

But, for Mayor Wynn Butler, a prior agreement in which the developer stated it would redevelop the alley was a deciding factor in not accepting the petition.

“In my mind, it’s not advisable simply because when the original zoning was going on (two years ago), the alley was discussed,” he said.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved four other items:

• The first reading to rezone the proposed Turnberry Addition (northeast of Grand Mere Parkway and Colbert Hills Drive) from R-S, single-family residential suburban district to R-1, single-family residential district.

• The first reading to annex and rezone the proposed Tract 8, Colbert Hills Addition, Unit 4, (west of the intersection of Kauffman Drive and Vanesta Drive) from county residential planned unit development district to R, single family residential district.

• The first reading to annex and rezone the proposed Muirfield Addition (1,300 feet northeast of the intersection of Grand Mere Parkway and Colbert Hills Drive) from county residential planned unit development to R, single-family residential district.

• A special event permit allowing the sale of sample alcohol sales in a beer tent on city property near Triangle Park for Aggieville’s 125th Birthday Street Fair and Dance on Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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