The City of Lancaster Zoning Hearing Board will wait at least three weeks before deciding whether to allow a proposed 20-room boutique hotel and restaurant on a block in a residential zoning district.
On Thursday the zoners continued a hearing for a planned 20-room hotel at 218 E. Madison St. until Dec. 22 so neighbors can get more information about the project.
“Madison is a tiny, residential block,” said Randy Bucksner, a Madison Street resident. “We’re a little confused about the whole thing.”
Kurtis Egan, who leads the development group proposing the hotel, said he welcomed the decision to delay approval to help inform residents about his project.
“We’re not some out-of-town developer,” Egan said. “We’re local, and we care about their needs.”
Egan’s group, East Madison Friends LLC, is seeking the zoning board’s approval to operate a hotel in a residential district and to use a parking lot on a nearby block to meet the project’s parking requirements. The project also will require approval from the city’s historical and planning commissions.
Plans for the hotel call for adding two stories to an existing one-story warehouse on the site and would feature terraces on the second and third floors. The site is near attractions like Lancaster Brewing Co. and the Lancaster Science Factory, and is less than half a mile from the Cork Factory Hotel.
“It’s a unique part of the city that offers something none of the other hotels in town have,” Egan said.
Residents of Madison Street said they only recently learned of the proposal.
Their main concern is parking: The property has only two parking spaces.
Egan has proposed renting 19 spaces in a Lancaster Parking Authority lot a couple of blocks away at 313 N. Cherry St. to meet the city’s parking requirements. Businesses are allowed to have parking up to 600 feet away if they get approval from the zoning hearing board.
He’s proposed using valets to take guest’s cars back and forth.
Parking is limited along Madison, a one-way street with parking on one side only. Many residents pay for off-street parking spaces or park on other blocks.
When the project first came before the zoners in October, Egan planned to rent 17 spaces from the parking authority. The zoners determined that more spaces were needed for the restaurant and tabled the project until he could update the plan.
Neighbors also have concerns about how the hotel would fit into their neighborhood.
Dominic DeFelice lives next to the site of the proposed hotel, which would have a terrace constructed overlooking his backyard.
“Fitting in the fabric of the neighborhood, anyone can look on Google maps and see it’s really weird,” he said Thursday afternoon.
Madelyn Melendez, who lives two doors down from the proposed project credited the developer for seizing the opportunity to create a new business.
“A lot of people don’t have opportunities like that,” she said.
The Madison Street property is zoned R-3 residential, but has been used to host a warehouse by a painting contractor for over 25 years. Egan’s request is to replace one nonconforming use with another one.
To fit 20 rooms and a restaurant, the developer plans to add two stories to the existing, 4,650-square-foot warehouse, which has been owned by Ville Painters Inc. since 1996.
Three rooms would be located on the first floor, 12 on the second, and five on the third. There would be a terrace on the third floor for guests.
Egan declined to provide the cost of the project, or the timeline for construction.
He said the restaurant would be a benefit to residents in a neighborhood that currently has none. The restaurant is shown in renderings as a pizza shop, but that concept has not been finalized.
“It’s an opportunity to create some new life on that corner, and also provide some green space,” Egan said.