The Willow Park city council unanimously approved a special use permit and site plan for the Springhill Suites by Marriott 60-foot hotel that is proposed to be constructed behind The Shops at Willow Park.
During the public hearing Tuesday, community members Jean Martin and Marcy Galle questioned the process with concerns about the permit and Interstate 20 Overlay District.
“The process staff is using on this agenda item is very confusing and is not currently covered by zoning and use ordinances in our codes,” according to Galle’s email she sent in for the public hearing. “Please understand that I am not against the hotel, but I am against the misuse of this application of the city codes.”
WP Planning Consultant Betty Chew addressed the reason of the special use permit.
“The reason for the special use or specific use request is there is ambiguity,” Chew said. “It is not clear from the map, if this crosses part of [the Interstate 20 Overlay District] or doesn’t cross part of it, so therefore there is a provision in the I-20 Overlay District for a specific use if the structure exceeds 50 feet in height. It has PD and commercial zoning.”
Kyle Wilks, president of Wilks Development, said having a hotel has been the plan from the beginning.
“The hotel is technically not in the Overlay District. This is an opportunity in Willow Park that will not always be here,” Wilks said. “From the beginning the hotel has always been on the master plan, so it’s not something new or different, it’s always been a part of the process.”
Several other community members were in favor of the hotel.
“If we deny a Marriott, everyone else is going to see that we didn’t open a Marriott and what we’re going to get next is not what we’re going to want,” Shannon Byrd, owner of Byrd Mill in The Shops at Willow Park, said. “We are losing revenue every day because we don’t have anywhere to house people. This just opens the doors for what’s to come in this town and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Trinity Christian Academy Head of School Mike Skaggs is also for the hotel.
“We have families come in for a variety of events and we are constantly encouraging them to shop locally, but there is nowhere to stay locally,” Skaggs said. “I’m tired of having to encourage our people to stay on the west side of Fort Worth or in Weatherford and it’s exciting to me to have this opportunity.”
Others who spoke in favor of the hotel included Dr. Joshua Tarbay, owner of Parker County Brewing Company and Weatherford ISD board member; and developer Jim Martin.
The hotel will have a tax benefit for Willow Park and bring in revenue to the city, WP City Manager Bryan Grimes said.
Grimes said as far as the 60-foot height of the hotel that some may be concerned about, there’s a number of reasons for height restrictions but the primary reason that has been brought up is fire protection. Later in the meeting, the council did approve a new ladder truck for the fire department.
“I want to be clear about this, we didn’t buy a fire truck because a hotel was coming. We bought a fire truck because there’s only one [like it] in the county and it’s with the city of Weatherford and we’re thankful for our partnership with them, but if it’s in service and we need it, we don’t have it,” Grimes said. “We also recognize there will be more development coming in that’s going to want to exceed this 30 or 35-foot barrier and so we recognize the need of a ladder truck in the future.”
A survey done by the city that received 113 responses showed that 87 residents said they think WP needs a hotel with 26 saying they do not think WP needs a hotel; 67 residents saying they would use the hotel and 46 saying they would not use it; 42 people saying they would use it for family lodging, 26 for event space rental, 18 for overnight getaways, nine for lodging for sporting events/tournaments; and 92 said they were aware hotel guests from out of town could help fund the city’s tax needs with 17 saying they are not aware.
“The council made the decision to approve the hotel, which is going to be an important thing in our community moving forward,” Grimes said.