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ASHTON — The city’s Planning and Zoning Board agreed to proceed with the proposed New Crown Hotel and Restaurant by hosting a public hearing later this month.

The upcoming public meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at City Hall.

The city made the decision on Thursday after listening to Ashton P&Z Administrator Tom Cluff review a Keller and Associates study of the proposal.

“We just need to make sure nothing is left out of it. The place where you'll use this study is in the public hearing,” Cluff said.

The hotel will reportedly be owned by a Chinese businessman hoping to cater to Asian tourists visiting national parks.

The hotel’s contractor, Jeff Southard, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, also attended the meeting.

“It was a long drive for a short meeting, but you hate not to be here if they have a question that only we can answer,” he said.

Keller and Associates presented its study on the hotel’s impact on the city’s wastewater, water and streets. It investigated two options, the first of which involved the impact of a two-story, 50-unit hotel and 200-seat restaurant with more than 5,000 square feet of commercial space. The second option gave information on the effect of a four-story, 108-unit hotel and a 200-seat restaurant also with 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

While the upcoming public hearing will concern the proposed two-story hotel, it’s the developer’s hope that a four-story hotel will eventually be allowed.

According to Keller, the city relies on what’s called an “Equivalent User Schedule,” which is used to figure monthly sewer costs for commercial projects.

That schedule also relies on determining Equivalent Dwelling Units, or the number of people per facility. The Keller study reports that in Ashton each EDU equals 1.53 people.

The new hotel falls under the city’s commercial 6 classification. This means the hotel is comprised of two EDUs “plus 0.02 EDUs per seat for each seat over 50,” according to the Keller study.

As the restaurant would seat 200, the city could assess the hotel three more EDUs for the extra 150 seats. In all, the hotel could be charged for five EDUs, according to the study.

The hotel also falls under the city’s 23 classification, meaning the city would charge the hotel 0.4 EDUs per unit, or 20 EDUs for the 50-room hotel. As the hotel rooms would lack kitchenettes, the Keller study assessed the hotel and restaurant together would have a total of 25 EDUs.

The study added that ongoing wastewater improvements will provide for an Ashton population of 1,131, which is about 236 more people than currently live in the city.

“These projections accommodate some growth but, more importantly, were coordinated around the capacities of major components of the water and wastewater infrastructure,” the Keller study reports.

This all translates into a small portion of wastewater being used, Cluff said.

“The 50-unit hotel/200-seat restaurant would use 16 percent of our unused capacity. In the sewer treatment, the 108-unit hotel and a 200-seat restaurant would use 31 percent of the unused capacity in the system,” he said.

Keller also estimated Ashton’s drinking water EDU at 679, or 1.62 people per drinking water EDU, with a maximum day of drinking water demand at 806 gallons a minute.

Based on those estimates, the hotel’s drinking water EDU for both the hotel and the restaurant would equal around 25, the engineers said.

“The calculations show that the proposed 50-unit hotel and 200-seat restaurant use 27 percent of the excess firm capacity in Ashton’s drinking water system,” reported Keller. “A 108-unit hotel and 200-seat restaurant use 51 percent of the excess firm capacity in Ashton’s drinking water system.”

Keller also reported that the city’s drinking water system “is well-looped” near the hotel thanks to an 8-inch water main adjacent to Highway 20. As a result, it reported the hotel doesn’t require the city to upgrade its current drinking water system.

The engineers stated that the city’s water supply was enough to secure a fire suppression system inside the new facility.

Cluff stated the fire department believed it could fight any fire at the hotel, whether it was two or four stories. The department asked that “standpipes” and a hose be placed on every floor and reminded Cluff that inside sprinklers can also be a lifesaver, he said.

The hotel’s owners have also requested that, should they be allowed to build a four-story hotel, P&Z approve it at 54 feet rather than the standard 35 feet currently permitted for both commercial and residential buildings. In the city’s industrial zones, buildings can go higher, although it wasn’t clear how high is currently allowed.

Cluff explained that the 35-foot standard became commonplace in the 1920s.

“I think, as a general rule, if you establish 35 feet, this is all the height we want. If we’re going to allow exceptions, we should handle that on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

It is possible to write a general rule but to add exceptions when necessary, Cluff said.

“A general rule doesn’t cover everything. That’s the genius — to get people to sit down and evaluate an application and determine if this is a good or a bad fit and to explain their rationale,” he said.

The Keller report also reviewed traffic to the hotel and stated that it would be minimal, as most visitors would be coming directly off Highway 20. If anything there may be less traffic, thanks to tour buses expected at the hotel.

The board also expressed concern about parking, as the current city code requires parking for “every room plus one.”

“The ordinance doesn’t care what you’re parking — a Prius or a Greyhound Bus,” he said.

Cluff said he had looked to other cities to see if they gave hotels any consideration for buses and said he hadn’t found any. He said there’s no accurate study to determine the number of people riding on tour buses, and it varies from city to city.

The board agreed that there should be some allowance for a bus and suggested discussing it during the upcoming public hearing.

Should the city not agree to the change, the developer doesn’t have a problem creating additional parking space, according to the Keller report.

Southard said he had hoped to start construction earlier this year but said he expects to start building in April. How long it takes to finish the building depends on whether the hotel is a two-story or a four-story building.

“It will take at least six months. That’s generally the case. I would have loved to have opened it for the season. Maybe we could finish the restaurant sooner. We’ll explore the opportunity once we know what’s going on,” he said.

For more information on the upcoming public meeting call the city at 208-652-3987.