UPDATE: Commission approves re-zoning for Galesburg hotel development

UPDATE: September 18, 2012

The Galesburg Planning and Zoning Commission votes to approve the re-zoning of 27 acres of farmland.

The vote took place after another public hearing, where neighbors voiced their concerns about the hotel and retail center development.

The issue will be discussed again in front of the Galesburg City Council on October 1st.

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GALESBURG – Neighbors of the Costa Catholic Academy spoke out at a public hearing Tuesday night about a developer possibly building a hotel nearby.

The hotel would go up near Highway 34 and Seminary Street. Developer Todd Raufeisen of Raufeisen Development wants to build a 27 acre hotel right across the street from the Wal-Mart and Menards.

“The retention pond is still in my backyard,” neighbor Angela Bastian said. “The hotel is budded up against residential properties in our neighborhood.”

The hotel is said to be a $10 million investment that would be built in the cornfields next to First Midwest Bank. Raufeisen had to make his case in front of about 75 people in attendance Tuesday at the Costa Catholic Academy.

“They’re concerned about what’s going to be in their backyard,” Raufeisen said. “We certainly understand that.”

Raufeisen plans on building a retention pond along with the hotel. He also wants to build a duplex near the site for people to own. The pond is supposed to be less than 100 yards away from residential homes.

“Have you personally been back here?” Bastian said to Raufeisen during the meeting.

Raufeisen responded quickly with, “I haven’t been in your backyard.”

Raufeisen knew he would be pummeled with questions from the crowd. Many are concerned the pond would be a hazard for the neighborhood children. Raufeisen says there is a fence around the retention pond he built for a hotel in Macomb,Illinois. He says the hotel in Galesburg would be designed like that one.

“There’s a retention pond on every development,” Raufeisen said. “It’s not building up against anyone’s home. It’s not in anyone’s backyard.”

Raufeisen has been in the development business now for 14 years in central Illinois and Boulder, Colorado. He also told the crowd this was not his company’s “first rodeo.” He would not tell us what specific hotel would go into the cornfields. He did disclose it would be a Hilton brand hotel though.

“If I told you that, I’d have to kill ya,” Raufeisen jokingly said of the specifics.

Galesburg has to rezone the area through its Planning and Zoning Commission in order for the deal to be approved. A public hearing on that is set for September 18 at 7:00 p.m at City Hall.

The City Council would have to approve any measure the Planning and Zoning Commission approves. Mayor Sal Garza expects the building to be working in about a year if the City Council approves of it.