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Hotel zoning amendment passes first reading

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A zoning amendment that would allow hotels in neighborhood commercial districts passed its first reading of the Columbia City Council Tuesday.

The proposed amendment would allow hotels, motels and tourist courts in neighborhood commercial districts zoned C-2. Under the current city code table of permitted uses, hotels, motels and tourist courts to C-3, C3-A, C-4, C-5, C-6, MX-1 and MX-2 zones.

Council members supporting the change say it is intended to encourage economic development in some city neighborhoods where restaurants and businesses already exist, such as Shandon.

“I fully support this,” said council member Daniel Rickenmann, who represents District 4.

He said the city has received inquiries from 15 developers who would like to build a hotel or provide office space at a building at 2215 Devine St., which the city purchased for $3.8 million. The zoning change would allow a developer to put a hotel at the site, which Rickenmann said is needed in the Five Points area.

“We’re looking to create energy in the Five Points area, and a hotel would do that,” he said. “We need that to help us continue to grow.”

Rickenmann said the loss of the Whitney Hotel at 700 Woodrow St. in Shandon, which is now luxury apartments, “had a significant impact” on the neighborhood, creating a void.

City zoning and planning staffs have recommended approval for the change.

Council member Moe Baddourah was the lone “no” vote.

“I’m not 100% there yet,” he said before voting.

Before the vote, City Council hosted a public hearing on the issue and no citizens spoke. On Facebook pages of the nearby Shandon and Rosewood neighborhoods, posters expressed mixed opinions. Some welcomed the possibility of new business, while others worried about traffic and the type of hotels that might be built.

City Council must vote on two more readings before the change becomes permanent.

Reach Renée Sexton at 803-726-7546.

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