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EGR eyes rules for hotels

City considers zoning amendments for Gaslight Village that would allow hotels, B&Bs.

August 23, 2019
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In an attempt to diversify businesses in the heart of East Grand Rapids, city officials are considering zoning amendments to allow hotels and bed-and-breakfasts in Gaslight Village.

The proposed changes come on the heels of East Grand Rapids’ new 2018 Master Plan. One of the focuses of the master plan is to attract reinvestment and new development at an appropriate scale in Gaslight Village.

Gaslight Village is considered the business core of East Grand Rapids and is at the center of potential land-use changes intended to help meet the goals of the plan.

Current uses in the commercial district range from neighborhood conveniences (grocery, dry cleaners, pharmacy, etc.) to boutique, high-end retail and a variety of eateries.

According to city commission documents, retail is the dominant land use in Gaslight Village, making up 28% of land uses and 45% of square feet occupied by all groups. Dining and entertainment make up 23% of land uses and offices comprise 17% of square feet.

The proposal to amend Title V of the city code was introduced to the city commission early in August. Amendments include new definitions for hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, and the addition of new land uses for hotels and B&Bs.

The proposal defines a bed-and-breakfast as “a private residence, occupied by the owner or resident manager, in which guest room accommodations are provided to overnight lodgers for compensation and which may include breakfast as a part of the accommodation.”

Additionally, hotels are defined as “a business establishment offering lodging accommodations to travelers and tourists for a daily rate and which may offer additional services, such as restaurants, entertainment and meeting rooms to guests and the general public.”

Both types of establishments would require special land use approval, as well.

The proposed ordinance amendments require a parking plan be submitted with the applicant’s site plan during the special land use approval process. The parking plan must include, at the minimum, at least one dedicated parking spot for 75% of the available rooms.

The proposals also would amend the section of Title V relating to hours of operation. Currently, no business shall be open to the public between midnight and 5 a.m., with the exception that on New Year’s Eve, businesses may be open until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Under the proposed amendment, hotels and B&Bs would be allowed to operate 24 hours per day.

The proposals also include definitions and regulations for product showrooms and similar mixed office with product display uses. The amendment specifically pertains to a business that includes a defined space in which merchandise samples are displayed to prospective buyers but are generally available only for viewing and must be ordered, like flooring, cabinetry and appliances.

Product showrooms must be open during regular business hours, at a minimum five days a week for at least five continuous hours a day.

Additionally, these establishments must allow walk-in customers, not just by appointment, and a minimum 70% of the street-facing façade on the ground level must contain display windows that allow pedestrians to see into the building.

East Grand Rapids adopted the 2018 Master Plan in June 2018.

East Grand Rapids’ previous master plan was adopted in 1999 with amendments in 2006 that concentrated on Gaslight Village. The 1999 Master Plan focused on how East Grand Rapids could be improved and sustained as a fully developed city with “exemplary neighborhoods, schools and quality of life.”

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