Hotel plan getting community support

LAWRENCEVILLE - Residents originally wary of a plan to build a hotel next to land Gwinnett County purchased last year for a park said they're now confident the two can coexist.

With special conditions meant to insulate the park property - near the intersections of Beaver Ruin Road, Satellite Boulevard and Interstate 85 - from the proposed hotel, self-described nature lovers said they think the passive park can be protected.

"It's an incredibly unique piece of property," resident Ed Bienkowski said of the park land. "We're trying to lessen the impact."

Tuesday, county commissioners will decide whether to allow a height increase, to six stories, on the hotel property. The conditions on the hotel would minimize the use of lights and require an enhanced buffer to protect the park area.

The park was the source of some controversy last year when Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said half of its nearly 58 acres were unusable swamp land. The county paid $4.65 million for almost two thirds of the land; the rest was donated.

Bienkowski, who is on the park's planning committee, said the land is a "diamond in the rough" and other residents said they think both the park and the hotel project will help revitalize the area.

MB Strickland, who represents Cornerstone Investments in the Paragon at Satellite project, as the development is known, said the entire area will be modeled after The Forum at Peachtree Parkway.