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Traffic issues concern Oberlin officials if conference center replaces hotel


OBERLIN – Oberlin College has proposed tearing down Oberlin Inn to build a new hotel and conference center, but parking and traffic issues have city officials concerned.

The proposal to demolish the existing complex to rebuild it into the “Gateway Hotel Project,” which would include a new hotel and conference center, restaurant, bar, college administrative offices, retail space and a bank with a drive-through, was reviewed by the city’s Planning and Development Department.

Officials in the Planning and Development Department did not return calls on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Tita Reed, assistant to the president for community and government relations at Oberlin College, said the site plan has been tabled. Reed said Oberlin College will go back to the Planning and Development Department with a new proposal that takes into account the problems noted with the college’s last proposal.

A report provided by the Planning and Development Department dated Sept. 13 notes several issues that would need to be corrected before the project can go forward.

The Public Works Department recommended that Oberlin College’s proposal not be approved because it contended that the city’s administration has made repeated attempts to address traffic circulation and parking, but the developer failed to adequately address the problems.

“Staff believes that multiple potential solutions exist that the developer appears to be unwilling to seriously consider,” the report read.

The report noted that the proposed drive-through lanes are not designed to comply with the city’s code and could adversely affect traffic on the street. The report also raised concerns with parking spaces that the college wanted to put in a residential area that was not zoned for commercial use.

The Oberlin Police Department submitted its own report, noting several problems with traffic circulation.

“It is the police department’s opinion that the proposed design is very problematic. There are traffic congestion issues and the potential for accidents resulting from traffic all converging in one entrance off of East College Street, the exit from the bank drive-through, the access to the loading dock, access to the parking lot and the main drive to the complex,” the report read.

The Oberlin Fire Department also noted issues with parking.

“… we have a deep concern on the lack of parking for this proposed parking. There are 215 parking space proposed for a combination of the hotel guests, employees, a banquet room that could accommodate 350 people and retail stores,” read the report. “Additionally, their proposal uses 44 existing spaces that are needed by employees/staff for the Art Building, Hall Auditorium and the Allen Art Museum.”

Additional details on the project were also asked to be submitted to the Electric Department and the Public Works Department as well.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

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