Clearly unable to establish zoning requirements sufficient enough to prevent developers from making Forney a wasteland of tiny homes and apartment complexes, Council Member Shaun Myers recently decided the city needs to amend
its hotel/motel development standards to mandate that any new hotel or motel built in Forney must include a conference/banquet room with a minimum 5,000 square feet.
On Thursday night the Forney Planning & Zoning Commission held a Public Hearing to discuss the hotel ordinance amendment, and Director of Development Peter Morgan started the discussion by explaining how the public hearing item came to be on the Commission’s May agenda.
Director Morgan said “We haven’t actually drafted an ordinance yet. Council Member Shaun Myers contacted staff and requested we review the current development requirements for hotels and motels. He specifically asked us to look at adding a requirement that a conference or meeting space be added.”
Morgan said “So if a new hotel or motel was to come in, they would have some requirement that would have meeting space added. I believe the request came about because the city does not normally have a lot of meeting space within its city limits. And there are a number of adjacent municipalities which do have requirements such as this.”
Council Member Shaun Myers was not present at this meeting. The Forney Best Western has 70 rooms, the Forney Motel 8 has 54 rooms, and the still under construction Holiday Inn Express will have 80 rooms.
Obviously expecting a very large hotel to build in Forney, the proposed amendment would require that any new hotel or motel to have a minimum of 200 rooms. And require the hotel to provide a conference/meeting space with square footage between 5,000 – 10,000 square feet.
General Manager of the Forney Best Western Christopher Inn & Suites Jessica Armour addressed the P&Z Commission in support of putting an ordinance in place, and she provided the Commission with quite a bit of genuine insight into the current profitability of the hotels in Forney.
She stated “If we’re putting in suggestions and putting things in place, I’d like to make a suggestion. If you all decide to bring in another hotel in Forney, make it have to be, not meeting space. Meeting space isn’t different. Make it something different than something we’re already offering. It has to be a full service hotel.”
Armour said “What’s going to happen is we’re going to get in price wars with the other hotels. And before you know it these hotels are going to get run down and we’re not going to be able to afford our franchise fees because we’re running poor to try to keep ourselves alive. I’ve been at this property since 2011, and we are just now making decent money out of that hotel and now two more hotels are coming in.”
After discussing the current operating standards and future development plans for hotels in Forney, the P&Z Commission took no action to amend current development standards, however they intend on revisiting the topic at their next meeting.
Written by: Denise Bell