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  July 21, 2008



  Chili wary of proposed Microtel Inn
  Ernst Lamothe Jr.
  Staff writer

  CHILI — Right behind the Valvoline Instant Oil Change and Bank of Castile on Chili Avenue sits a
  nondescript open field.

  Fast food chains, an auto service station and other businesses have shown interest in the site over
  the years, but the land — almost 3 acres — remains undeveloped.

  Now a local company is proposing Chili's first hotel for the site, which would meet a need for one of
  the few Monroe County suburbs that has more than 30 percent open space. Indus Companies of
  Pittsford is proposing a 67-room Microtel Inn & Suites at 3260 Chili Ave.

  The next-closest hotel to the center of Chili would be six miles northeast at the Greater Rochester
  International Airport.

  The Rochester area has other Microtel Inns at 905 Lehigh Station Road in Henrietta and 7498 Main
  St. in Victor.

  However, the community is at odds over the project.

  Those fighting the plan said the three-story building design does not match the area's architecture,
  especially since it is near a residential neighborhood. They also are worried about increased traffic,
  drainage problems and the risk of an increase in crime.

  Those backing the project said it would meet a need for accommodations near Roberts Wesleyan
  College and would put another business on the tax rolls.

  The public planning process will begin next month when developers present the project to the
  Planning Board on Aug. 12.

  Early opposition

  The hotel proposal is evoking strong feelings — and history has shown when Chili residents are wary
  of a project, they are not reticent about voicing their opinions. "This structure is too large for the size
  of the area, and there is not enough separation from our residential homes. We will be able to see
  right into the hotel's windows, and vice versa," said Teresa Crozier, who lives next to the site. "This is
  not what a lot of residents want to see in this location."

  In the past two months, the town's drainage, preservation, architectural and traffic committees also
  have raised concerns about the hotel. And almost all Planning Board members had critical
  reservations about the project when they discussed it at a spring meeting.

  Dario Marchioni said the preliminary design plan lacked the architectural beauty he wants in a town
  hotel, saying the project "is not the kind of quality that this town deserves."




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  George Brinkwart wanted sidewalks and pedestrian access on Chili Avenue.

  John Nowicki said he was not convinced of the project's viability, calling it "10 pounds of something in
  a five-pound area." He also expressed worries about the building's height and drainage issues.

  Planning Board Chairman Jim Martin said more screening was necessary for the project because it is
  adjacent to homes.

  "Providing more buffering is paramount to any conversation dealing with this project," said Martin. "It's
  a big concern because it buffers a residential neighborhood, and we're hoping the developers took
  care of that issue from the last meeting."

  Adjustments

  Jett Mehta, president of Indus Companies, is well aware of the community's perception about his
  project. He first met with the town's design review committee in January about the prospect of
  bringing a hotel to Chili. After the April Planning Board meeting, he met with his engineers and
  landscape and architectural designers to make major changes to the proposal, which will be outlined
  at the meeting next month.

  He shifted the orientation of the hotel, moving it from parallel to perpendicular to Chili Avenue,
  providing a wider buffer from the residential area. The building would be 180 feet from the closest
  home. The design plan also adds more landscaping and a grander front entrance than originally
  proposed.

  J.D. Power, a marketing research company that conducts surveys of customer satisfaction and
  product quality, rated the Microtel business best in class for six years in a row.

  Mehta said he also wants residents to know that the project is a hotel, not a motel. A motel is a
  building with exterior corridors; customers drive up to rooms and enter from the outside. A hotel has
  interior corridors with numerous amenities. Each room would provide a 32-inch LCD television, a
  refrigerator, a hair dryer, a desk, an iron and free long distance.

  The hotel, with rooms costing $60 to $100 a night, has a very new design; Henrietta's was built in the
  late 1980s, and Victor's was built 14 years ago. Hotel representatives picked the proposed Chili
  location because it is within walking distance or a mile from restaurants, dry cleaners, a grocery store,
  a bank, a coffee shop, a gas station, a drugstore, hair and nail services and an expressway.

  Mehta also discussed neighbors' security concerns, saying it's in the best interest of his business to
  provide "a safe and comfortable environment." Each door would have an electronic key, and the hotel
  would have a 24-hour front desk and security cameras throughout.

  "We're trying to create something that Chili residents will be proud to call their own. We just want a
  chance to show what we can do," Mehta said.

  Right space?

  Chili Supervisor David Dunning is among those who want to see a project similar to this come to
  fruition in town.

  "I am for a hotel in Chili, but it doesn't necessarily have to be in that (Chili Avenue) area," said
  Dunning. "If the Planning Board decides it's the right space to have a hotel, then I will support them. If
  the Planning Board decides it is not the right space for the hotel, then I will support that decision, too."

  Dunning knows all too well how a motivated Chili community can halt a project. Two years ago, a
  group of residents that included him stopped a Georgia company from building a shopping mall
  across from a residential neighborhood.




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  North American Properties wanted to build a 345,000-square-foot complex on Paul Road featuring
  two big-box stores, which included a Target, smaller businesses and restaurants.

  A grassroots movement opposed the project and raised more than $2,000 to create red and white
  lawn signs with the words "No Mall on Paul." With the increased pressure, North American Properties
  rescinded its proposal.

  Some neighbors hope the proposed Microtel meets the same fate.

  "We have nothing against this project, but we are against where it will be built," said Crozier. "This is
  a residential neighborhood, and this project simply doesn't belong here."

  Mehta said he wants to state his case to the community.

  "We expected to go through a rigorous process, because the town of Chili is growing and the
  Planning Board has to be tough to make sure the proper development is happening," he said. "We're
  ready to go through that process to bring Chili a high-quality hotel."

  ELAMOTHE@DemocratandChronicle.com




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