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Richmond Hill Council approves height variance for hotel
Richmond Hill City Councilmembers Jan Bass and John Fesperman Jr. were sworn into their new terms by Mayor Harold Fowler on Tuesday in City Hall. - photo by Brent Zell

The Richmond Hill City Council on Tuesday approved a height variance for a proposed four-story Home2 Suites by Hilton at Highway 17 and Ponderosa Road.

The council signed off on an 8-foot variance to the city’s maximum building-height requirement of 35 feet.

At the Dec. 28 Richmond Hill Planning Commission meeting, Clif Cooper of Dawson Architects told the board that a fourth floor was necessary to shrink the hotel’s footprint and put it farther away from Wiley Woods. City Planning and Zoning Director Scott Allison told the board that the 35-foot limit was in place before the Richmond Hill Fire Department obtained a truck with a higher ladder. Commissioner Tara Baraniak said the hotel’s plans show space for a possible restaurant.

A petition containing 39 signatures was submitted in opposition to the variance, with some residents voicing concerns Dec. 28 about traffic, safety, buffers and other aspects. The Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend approval. No one spoke against the variance at Tuesday’s council meeting.

According to the variance application released at Tuesday’s meeting, the hotel prototype is designed for 107 rooms.

In other action Tuesday, the council approved three alcohol-related requests — for Publix Supermarket to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption, for Fuji restaurant to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, and for Melody’s Coastal Café to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Also on Tuesday, council members Jan Bass and John Fesperman Jr. were sworn in for their new terms on the board. Bass and Fesperman were re-elected to their seats in November; each ran unopposed.

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