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Tuesday, Feb 05 2013 12:03 AM

Controversial motel project appealed

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Airport business owner Ken Hetge hands over $1561 to Deputy City Clerk Ashley Whitmore to pay the appeal filing fee on Monday afternoon, Jan. 28. He previously appealed the approval of a Motel 6 on property proposed for property in the Capital Hills area. His latest appeal is for a different motel on the same property. Photo by Ed Gordon/Tehachapi News

The Tehachapi City Council will have to review the approval of a motel project in the Capital Hills area north of Highway 58 near Mill Street since the Tehachapi Planning Commission's approval of the project has been appealed.

Last year, the Commission approved construction of a Motel 6 on the property. Airport business owner Ken Hetge appealed that decision, but the appeal was moot after the property owner withdrew the project.

Since then, motel developer Terry Delamater received approval from the Commission to build a project called the Tehachapi Inn on the property. On Monday afternoon, Jan. 28, Hetge appealed that decision, paying the City of Tehachapi $1561 to require the City Council to review the decision.

Hetge's latest appeal is a duplicate of the one he filed on Oct. 22 following the initial approval of a Motel 6 on Oct. 8. Delamater withdrew the original proposal after severing ties with Motel 6.

The Planning Commission then approved a revised version of a 72-room non-franchise hotel at its Jan. 14 meeting. As proposed, the motel would be a three-story, 25,319 square foot structure located north and adjacent to Capital Hills Parkway, east of Magellan Drive and west of Challenger Drive.

Hetge and others believe this area is too close to the protected flight path of aircraft arriving at and departing from the Tehachapi Airport.

"Its nothing but a tragedy that the city would allow a single developer to intimidate them into supporting a project that jeopardizes one of the important most pieces of public infrastructure that exists in the city," Hetge said.

The basis of Hetge's appeal is what he believes is a lack of compliance with the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan and guidelines set forth by the state of California Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics.

"Even though the developer has moved his building approximately 15-feet to get it to comply with out-of-date published air safety zone requirements, the inherent risk of the location a single line cannot be the determining factor on whether a hotel guest lives or dies should an aircraft accident occur," Hetge told the commission, which at its meeting on Jan. 8 listened to pilots, hanger owners and interested citizens as they expressed concerns over the safety for both pilots and future motel occupants.

"The city management's lack of understanding of the current air traffic in and out of the airport is one of the primary causes of this crisis," Hetge said. "It is critical that the city undertake an immediate review of current airport operations and flight paths and apply the current state guidelines to development around the airport."

In response to the filing, City Engineer Jay Schlosser said the city is a little confused as to the reasons for the appeal, since the original objection from the pilot's association was that that the proposed hotel either encroached or potentially encroached into the B1 compatibility zone.

"The revised proposed project clearly lies outside of the B1 in the D zone," he said. "The only remaining theory for the objection from the pilots is that a handful of them simply don't want the motel to be built at all."

And while Schlosser said that the city has made sure the developer has followed the letter of the law, the pilots and Hetge will get their chance to have the appeal heard before the Tehachapi City Council at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Beekay Theatre.

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