A 28,000-square-foot hotel development could spring up soon in Merritt after city council approved a zoning amendment and development permit for the project at its regular meeting last Tuesday.

Just before the council meeting, the rezoning application was sent to a public hearing, which drew five people to council chambers. One member of the public spoke in favour of the hotel and there were two submitted letters expressing concerns.

Nooaitch Band Chief Joyce Sam wrote an email that said she felt the proposed hotel and zoning bylaw changes affect the interests of the band and the Gateway 286 project.

Sam went on to ask mayor and council to delay a decision on the proposed development until the band could determine the impact it would have on their interests.

A letter from Gold Trail Ventures Inc. expressed concern that rezoning land that neighbours their own hotel development could threaten their project’s viability.

For the past 14 years, Gold Trail Ventures Inc. has owned an 11.4 acre property along Airport Road adjacent to the Crawford Avenue site the hotel in question would be built on. The company’s property is already zoned C4 (highway commercial).

That is the zoning needed to move this hotel development forward — and six months ago, an Abbotsford-based architect company submitted development plans and a development permit application on Gold Trail Venture’s behalf. The plans include developing an 83-room hotel, shopping village, restaurant and RV park along the Airport Road property.

Their letter also asked if the city would have the new development chip in on the cost of a traffic circle and a connector to Airport Road that Gold Trail has undertaken to design and finance as part of its development.

The bylaw was then returned from the public hearing and council approved third reading of the application to rezone the property at 3969 Crawford Ave. The bylaw will now have to receive approval from the Ministry of Transportation before council can vote to adopt it.

Later on in the meeting, the development permit for the 4.62-acre property on Crawford Avenue was unanimously approved by council subject to approval from the Ministry of Transportation, reception of a security bond for landscaping and adoption of the city’s zoning bylaw amendment 2179.

The hotel development represents an investment worth $5 million in new construction, a City of Merritt council report stated.

Phase one of the development includes plans for an 83-room hotel, 350-seat convention centre and 120-seat restaurant. A second phase consisting of a cultural centre and retail stores is planned, but will require another rezoning application.