The Cary Town Council has approved a rezoning that helps clear the way for two new hotels on North Harrison Avenue.
Last week’s vote will put the town’s fourth and fifth hotels within a mile of each other near The Arboretum mixed-use development and SAS, one of Cary’s largest employers.
The hotel complex will consist of one building housing two hotel brands. It’s become a common practice for lodging companies to place different brands offering varying levels of service on the same site. A hotel near Raleigh-Durham International Airport has three Marriott brands under one roof.
The Cary proposal has undergone numerous changes to satisfy neighbors and the Town Council since it was first proposed two years ago.
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The request was approved 6-1, with Mayor Harold Weinbrecht casting the lone dissenting vote. He said increased traffic and density along that section of Harrison Avenue still gives him pause.
This project initially was conceived as an eight-story building with more than 350 rooms in 2015. That met with significant resistance from people living in surrounding neighborhoods, planning staff said.
Since then, the scope of the project has been reduced to about 250 rooms in a structure that ranges from three to seven stories. A wider buffer, a larger 250-foot setback for the building and protecting a stand of mature trees also addressed opponents’ concerns.
The rezoning case had been before the board in July, but action was delayed until concerns about road connections were cleared up. Since then the developers were able to secure another exit point from the property that will allow a left turn onto Harrison Avenue from the shopping center.
Councilman Don Frantz said the changes addressed neighbors’ concerns ”to the point that I’ve got more emails from people who support this project than are against it.”
“That rarely happens,” Frantz added. “Every time they’ve come up against a wall, they figured out a way to get over the wall. This use makes sense. This area needs this type of business.”
Councilman Ken George said the project will complement the existing Arboretum.
“I understand when the Arboretum was proposed, there was a hotel that was part of it that got pulled,” he said. “Now we’re getting something that’s going to come in and enhance the Arboretum and adds to it.”
Frantz said the property was going to be developed one way or another.
“If it doesn’t develop as a hotel, what is it going to develop as?” he said. “An apartment complex? No matter what goes on this site, it is going to generate traffic and be an impact. At the end of the day, this is going to be as low an impact as anything that would go there.”
Nobody spoke during the public hearing on the rezoning.
The undeveloped 7.2 acre tract has an assessed-tax value of $428,400.