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Residents appeal Hampton Inn project

Environmental impacts and aesthetics cited as concerns
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents opposed to the proposed three-story 104-room Hampton Inn project off Interstate 80 and Russell Road in Auburn are appealing to the City Council. Auburn–based architect Faradg Gilanfarr and his wife, Mary, filed the appeal with the city late Thursday citing environmental impacts and aesthetics as major concerns. The council is required to act on the appeal within the next 60 days. “After seeing what this hotel would look like, it looked like your standard, cookie-cutter hotel along the freeway,” Mary Gilanfarr said Friday. “There is also going to be a lot of impact on the community — sewer, natural gas, traffic. And I think there is a way for all these things to be addressed so (the developers) could produce a design for a building that is energy-efficient.” Auburn planning commissioners approved 3-1 June 3 a use permit, height variance and tree permit for the 5.9-acre hotel project. The $15 million Hampton Inn & Suites, which will include a swimming pool, spa, business center, meeting rooms and a standalone pad site for a 6,000-square-foot restaurant, is situated on an oak-filled stretch of undeveloped land near the Auburn Woods condominiums on Lincoln Way. The project will require the removal of approximately 285 trees, which could be mitigated by on-site planting and a payment of $25,775 in-lieu tree mitigation fees for the balance. Commissioner Lisa Worthington voted against the project. She said the hotel’s scale was too big and she didn’t think a proposed landscape buffer was sufficient. “I am not sure if a three-story building next to townhomes is a good fit for North Auburn,” Worthington said during the meeting. “I think a “lodge feel” would be more appropriate.” A handful of residents also spoke out in opposition to the project, citing size, height, aesthetics, tree removal and sewer services as major concerns. “We are not opposed to a hotel or any development on this site,” Auburn resident Deren Ross said at the meeting. “Our problem is that with this hotel, comes the excessive removal of trees. And the scale — it’s massive, it’s huge. We feel this project is too large.” The land is zoned for hotel use and city staff have determined the project’s traffic effect on the community is minimal because it is adjacent to highway ramps. The project developers will also be responsible for minor road widening along Lincoln Way including curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements. A traffic study associated with the project’s mitigated negative declaration indicates that all-way stop controls may be necessary at the Lincoln Way, eastbound Interstate 80 intersection. Garrett Grialou, president of Reneson Hotel Group, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Friday. Mary Gilanfarr said she would like to see the hotel reflect Auburn’s historical theme. “The design should reflect the gold country and Auburn,” she said. “It should be something that is beautiful and says quality of life in Auburn instead of looking like Roseville or Rocklin or San Jose.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.