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Buellton Planning Commission OKs Proposed Hotels, But Parking Prompts Concerns

McMurray Road project includes pair of 4-story hotels, each with 107 guest rooms, along with shared meeting space that could hold events

Buellton hotels Click to view larger
The proposed Cambria Hotel & Suites is one of two hotels approved by the Buellton Planning Commission for a four-acre site on McMurray Road north of Highway 246. (Arris Studio Architects rendering)

A pair of new four-story hotels has earned approval from the Buellton Planning Commission, but a related meeting space has raised questions about the number of proposed parking spaces.

SY Valley Vineyard Resorts applied to develop the hotels on about four acres between McMurray Road and Valley Vineyard Circle, just north of Highway 246.

Multiple story poles topped with flags have designated the future home for the hotels — referred to as the Cambria Hotel & Suites and a boutique hotel — and their planned height on the site along McMurray Road across from McDonald’s and the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott.

The project calls for two hotels, each with 107 guest rooms, to bring 214 new rooms to Buellton along with two restaurants.

Additionally, a separate 4,400-square-foot meeting room would be shared by the two hotels and could host events for guests or the wider Santa Ynez Valley community.

In all, the three buildings — with a contemporary ranch architectural style — would total 140,440 square feet.

Other features would include two pools and a shared outdoor open space, including an event lawn, outdoor seating areas and a water feature.

Some 222 parking spaces also are proposed, sparking discussions about whether the number would be adequate for guests staying at the hotels, employees and people attending events at the meeting room.

The Oak Springs Village Specific Plan, also called the Village Specific Plan, called for the development of a hotel along with assorted residences and retail businesses that led to the opening of Tractor Supply Co., Starbucks and more at the site.

Along with a hotel, the specific plan also would include development of a 1.8-acre park.

Buellton hotels
Story poles topped with flags are posted at the site of the two proposed hotels off McMurray Road in Buellton. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Most of the discussion Thursday night centered on parking concerns and whether the site would have a suitable number because of the hotel guests and meeting space attendees.

Requiring a temporary-use permit for corporate events or weddings would allow provisions for off-site parking, planning director Andrea Keefer said.

“That’s why we added those conditions and a temporary-use permit so through the temporary-use permit process we’re able to address the parking and maybe work out off-site parking and shuttling into it,” City Manager Marc Bierdzinski said in response to a planning commissioner’s concerns about inadequate parking spaces.

“We had the same concerns you did.”

Staff also mentioned adding a one-year review to analyze any potential challenges caused by events.

But architect Thom Jess of Arris Studio Architects and his client, Christopher Atkinson of SY Valley Vineyard Resorts, balked at proposed restrictions to the meeting space, including the one-year review.

Regarding parking, a worst-case scenario with all rooms booked and an event planned at the site means there would be insufficient parking, but Jess said that is not realistic.

“In reality, in an everyday scenario in most cases, there’s going to be more than enough parking,” he said. “It’s going to be a quarter-empty parking lot.”

Most events would include hotel guests, so parking wouldn’t be affected, he said, adding that the adjacent retail center and on-street parking could provide additional space for night events, if needed.

While the project received commission approval, it is expected to return early in 2019 to finalize some conditions related to parking, noise for events and other aspects related to the meeting space.

The new hotels would boost the number of places where visitors could stay in Buellton.

“We welcome and look forward to working with the new hoteliers,” said Shelby Sim, president and CEO of Visit Santa Ynez Valley. “As interest and overnights increase in the Santa Ynez Valley, more accommodations are a must.”

Buellton also gained a Hampton Inn & Suites at 600 McMurray Road, east of Damassa Road. The three-story, 61,692-square-foot hotel, which opened in 2017, added 99 rooms to the valley’s inventory.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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