The Tioga County Planning Board on Wednesday approved a plan for a Holiday Inn Express and restaurant to be built across from Ted Clark's busy Market on Broad Street in Waverly.

Amy Franco from CHA Consulting brought the site plan before the board asking for approval of three issues: rezoning some residential properties at the corner of Pine and Chemung Streets from residential to commercial; an area variance; and approval of the site plan for development of the area. CHA Consulting is handling the site plan development for the Waverly project for developer SAI Capital Group.

The footprint of the proposed development would cover nearly the entire block bordered by Chemung Street and Route 17C on the north, Broad Street on the south, Pine Street on the east, and the 220 Extension on the west. With the project in final planning stage, Tioga County Economic Development and Planning Director Doug Barton said construction on the development could begin as early as the Spring of 2013, though studies are yet to be done on traffic impact and emergency response capabilities in Waverly.

Eric Miller, filling in for Tioga County Planning Director Elaine Jardine, said that in his review of the Tioga County Strategic Plan the proposed development in Waverly meets plan goals, and that there would be little or no negative impact as the project goes forward.

The area variance requested for the site stems from the proposed height of the building, 63 feet, and four stories. Current zoning regulations restrict developments to 35 feet and three stories without special approval from the Waverly and county planning boards. Miller said that the main issue is emergency management - does Waverly have a ladder truck that could reach the 63 foot height of the building, and would there be enough water pressure to extinguish a fire?

Village of Waverly Trustee Jerry Sinsabaugh said that there are currently a few buildings in Waverly that are as high or higher than the proposed Holiday Inn, including Elizabeth Square senior housing building and much of Broad Street. Those buildings predate current zoning restrictions on height, Sinsabaugh said, adding that Waverly currently has a ladder truck to respond to emergencies that could arise at taller buildings in the village.

Franco said the project would cover 13,000 square feet, and the hotel is proposed to have 86 rooms. As for the restaurant, Franco said there is not yet a tenant on board for it, but she did not foresee a problem finding one. The exact placement of the restaurant, which is a separate building from the hotel, is still pending Department of Transportation approval for the development of the western section of the lot. Current plans have the restaurant sitting about in the same location as the current building across from Ted Clark's on Broad Street.

The Department of Transportation is against construction of a building there, as water and sewer lines run under that lot from the former location of Elmira Street, before the 220 Extension was built, Franco said. Because there are lines that will at some point require work or replacement and DOT is worried about access, the location of the restaurant can easily be moved elsewhere on the site, Franco said, adding that DOT seemed open to a parking lot being constructed there, and while leaning against selling the property to the developers, they are leaning toward leasing it for the project.

So with a pending decision from the DOT on leasing their section, a study on water flow for sprinklers and hydrants (and the possible addition of a hydrant on Chemung Street), and a traffic study yet to come, the proposed plan to bring a Holiday Inn Express and national chain restaurant to Waverly is moving ahead. Franco said the Holiday Inn should hire around 15 people after it is built, and that the number of employees hired by a restaurant would depend on which chain decided to take advantage of this opportunity in Waverly.

Waverly and county officials are enthusiastic about the project, with Sinsabaugh saying both he and most village residents that have attended public information meetings about the project are behind it.

"I think it would be a nice addition to the community, it's right on the exit and makes sense," Barton said, adding "it's up to local businesses to entice people to come into the area and spend some time here." Miller agreed, saying the project is an opportunity local businesses can take advantage of.