Zoning board approves motel

July 14, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A new Travelodge motel that will exceed the city's building height restriction by 12 feet was approved by the Charles Town Zoning Board of Appeals Monday Wednesday night.

Ronnie Marcus, who will run the four-story, 62-foot high motel with his brother, Terry, said construction could begin within 30 days.

The only modification made Wednesday was that the Marcuses agreed to reduce the motel's lighted signs from four to three.

Four signs were proposed for the top of the 120-room motel, but zoning board members said they did not see the need for a sign on the west side of building, which would face a residential section of town.

The long-established Turf Motel beside the Charles Town Races is being expanded to create the new Travelodge. The Marcuses said they always wanted to build a new motel if the track was able to make an economic turnabout.


The top three floors of the motel will look over the track, and each room will have an outside balcony, said architect Bob Eckels.

Because the new motel at 608 E. Washington St. will be the tallest building in town, zoning board member Kate DiServio was concerned what colors the building will use.

Because the motel is still in the design phase, the color scheme has not been determined, but it will not be "electric blue," said Eckels.

"These won't be wild colors," said Ronnie Marcus.

The builders also asked for a variance from the requirement that the building have a setback from the rear property line of 30 feet. The Travelodge will have a 16-foot setback.

Zoning board members said they did not know why the town's zoning laws limit the height of buildings to 50 feet.

Zoning Administrator Annette van Hilst and zoning board chairwoman Diana Walch said the limit was included in the town's zoning laws passed in 1991, which was before she joined the board.

Some towns restrict building heights to protect historical sites, said van Hilst.

"They probably looked at cities of comparable size and saw what was reasonable," said Walch.

Two people spoke in favor of the new motel, including Mary Via, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Via said having a nationally franchised motel in town will help attract tourist dollars town to the area. No matter how well an independent motel is maintained, tourists almost always prefer a motel name with which they are familiar, said Via.

"I hate to see us lose the people to Berkeley County. It helps the revenue in the area," said Via.

The motel will be built at the rear of five acres the Marcuses own. There are no nearby homes that would be affected by any shadows from the building, which will have a pitched roof and a combination of classic architectural designs, said Eckels.

The motel, which will cost about $5 million, will employ 40 to 45 people, said Ronnie Marcus. Thirty of the Turf's current rooms will be torn down for the new building.

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