Saturday, December 3, 2022

Family Inn files plan to turn motel into extended stay — but hits a roadblock

The Family Inn of America Williamsburg, 5413 Airport Road, has filed a conceptual plan with James City County to turn the hotel -- which is currently limited to a maximum 30-day stay. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Google Maps)
The Family Inn of America Williamsburg, 5413 Airport Road, has filed a conceptual plan with James City County to turn the hotel — which is currently limited to a maximum 30-day stay. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Google Maps)

An older motel on Richmond Road has hit a roadblock in its efforts to become an extended stay motel.

The Family Inn of America Williamsburg, 5413 Airport Road, has filed a conceptual plan with James City County to turn the hotel — which is currently limited to a maximum 30-day stay.

There are some problems with the plan, however. 

Principal Planner Ellen Cook said an extended stay motel is not an allowed use under the zoning ordinance.

“Staff has let him know that extended stay hotels/motels are not a use in the zoning ordinance and are therefore not allowed as they act more like apartments than hotels or motels,” Cook wrote in an email.

The zoning ordinance currently allows hotels and motels to host tourists or transient people for up to 30 days — but not longer, as an extended stay motel would require.

Planning staff also reviewed the property for possible rezoning to allow apartments instead of a hotel. That option also could not work as “currently configured” because the occupation density is too high for any zoning district in the county as the hotel is currently designed, Cook added.

“All of that being said, it could remain a motel that meets the ordinance requirements as outlined above without any legislative approval (it is currently operating as such),” she said of the process in which the Board of Supervisors would approve a change in use.

Paperwork filed in James City County’s PermitLink permit tracking system gives additional detail into impacts of a project at the Family Inn. 

If providing affordable housing is a goal of the Family Inn’s project, a rezoning may also be needed, according to PermitLink documents.

A James City County fire marshal’s report says the Family Inn had repaired or remediated all fire code violations as of May 15. 

The report also said the exit stairwell facing the front lobby doors would need repair or replacement “at some point soon.”

The building will also need to comply with the State Fire Prevention Code and the International Building Code.

A letter from the Virginia Department of Transportation also says the department does not believe changing the motel to an extended stay hotel will significantly impact traffic in the area.

While an Aug. 23 Planning Department staff letter to the applicant, Dongsheng Fan, says an extended stay hotel is not possible under current zoning density requirements and allowed uses under the zoning ordinance, it says other uses can be considered in the future.

“If you have any other thoughts or ideas regarding uses for this property please contact us and we will ask the review group to look at the proposal from that perspective,” Senior Planner Alex Baruch wrote.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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