Homeowners in what is probably the strongest neighborhood association around Rome are starting to express their concerns over plans to develop a Sleep Inn at the corner of Charlton Street and Martha Berry Boulevard. Eric McDowell, president of the Summerville Park Neighborhood Association, said he expects the community to turn out en masse when the prospective hotel owners go before the Board of Adjustments on June 20 to seek permission to move forward with the project without a sidewalk.

In his application for a variance, Tony Patel of the Patton Partnership LLC, of Richmond Hill, asks that he be allowed to construct the hotel without a sidewalk on the Charlton Street frontage because there are not any sidewalks in the community right now.

The property is already zoned CC-Community Commercial, which does permit hotels within that zoning category.

“That’s a little bothersome because it doesn’t give us any extra ammunition to oppose the project,” said McDowell.

The partnership is planning a 52-room hotel, according to Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism Executive Director Lisa Smith.

Summerville Park, which sits between Martha Berry Boulevard on the east and Division Street on the west, Redmond Road on the north and Little Dry Creek on the south, is one of Rome’s oldest subdivisions and includes close to 300 homes. McDowell said that not all of the homeowners are active members of the neighborhood association.

“No one has been positive about (it). We’re pretty disturbed about yet another motel in the neighborhood,” McDowell said.

The Sunrise Inn and Suites sits diagonally across Martha Berry Boulevard from the Charlton Street intersection with Martha Berry Boulevard. An Economy Inn sits a block to the north of the intersection, wrapped around the China City restaurant. Both of those properties are generally considered motels, single-story properties with parking essentially right in front of the entrance to the room.

Sleep Inns are more of a true hotel. The brand features free high-speed internet service and a free morning breakfast menu with both hot and cold options.

Sleep Inn hotels are part of the national Choice Hotels chain which includes the Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, Clarion, MainStay Suites and Econo Lodge properties.

At one point, a Sleep Inn was targeted for the end of Hobson Way off U.S. 411 east, however the franchise owner got sick and passed away before the hotel could be developed. Patel’s group now has the rights to the Sleep Inn flag and opted for the location on Martha Berry Boulevard, however they have not closed on the acquisition of the property.

McDowell said that as soon as the Rome-Floyd Planning Department posted a sign on the property for the variance request, his phone started to ring — or make whatever noise is associated with a text message — from concerned residents of the Summerville Park community.

Retired Rome orthopedic specialist Dr. Sid Bell, who lives near the proposed hotel location, said his primary concern is the traffic that would be created by the hotel and its impact on an already busy intersection.

“Both the in and out cuts are on Charlton. We know that this is zoned for commercial but this would be a 24/7 business where cars would be coming and going all hours of the day seven days a week, as opposed to an office where it would be just during the day and office hours,” Bell said. He also said the community is well aware of the HOPE Village plans being proposed by Global Impact International and Restoration Rome for re-utilization of the old Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property at the Division Street end of Charlton and the potential impact it would have on increased traffic in the neighborhood.

“The Sleep Inn will make that intersection at Martha Berry and Charlton much busier than it is now,” Bell said.

Bell said he was hopeful that the community would turn out in large numbers at the Board of Adjustments meeting to oppose the variance. McDowell said he was hoping for enough people in the community to show up for the variance request to “convince the people that they don’t want to be in a neighborhood that doesn’t want them.”

Rome Mayor Bill Collins, who lives in Summerville Park, said the community’s experience with the hotels that have been so close to the neighborhood has not always been the best.

“I hate to voice an opinion at this point because I might have to vote on it,” Collins said. “Summerville Park is a traditional family place and has been for a long time.” He is a member of the neighborhood association and said that at this point he’s not real interested in another hotel that close to the neighborhood, and the fact the property is already zoned commercial is left over from past use of the property.

“We’ve got to go through the process and I want to be fair about the process,” Collins said.

For additional information about the Board of Adjustments meeting, contact the Rome-Floyd Planning office at 706-236-5022.