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New hotel planned for South Middleton airport zone

South Middleton Township has been the center of a variety of development announcements in recent weeks, including Giant Food Stores announcing plans to take over a Nell’s store, as well as development for a new Sheetz, and the current construction of a solar-powered housing development.

One of these developments is a new Microtel hotel building, which, according to South Middleton Township Supervisor Tom Faley, is planned for construction atop a five-acre underdeveloped property along Westminster Drive — just south of Forge Road.

Faley said the hotel plan was presented before the South Middleton Planning Board Tuesday. The board ultimately recommended the plan’s approval, but suggested several conditions, including a release on the amount of planned hotel rooms as well as a detailed lighting plan, the instillation of aeronautical lights on the highest corners of the hotel and the construction of a 40-foot buffer between the hotel and a group of residential properties on Forge Road.

A previously suggested traffic study was canceled in lieu of a $20,000 contribution to the township’s general traffic fund, which could be used for road improvements or other related matters.

As of now, the hotel would reportedly occupy around 11,414 square feet of space, including 83 rooms and 99 parking spaces. Each room would include a bathroom and a closet space.

Since the hotel’s intended location, a commercial zoning district, sits in a hazard zone in terms of its proximity to the Carlisle Airport, Faley said representatives would have to receive a permit from PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation prior to the approval of a land development plan.

But the location, barring PennDOT rejection, may prove to be a residential asset to aviators and passengers, since airport traffic may increase as a result of a $2.7 million multimodal grant sought by the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC), on behalf of the airport, to renovate hangar buildings and help with expansions.

“If the grant goes through, there will be an increase to traffic to the airport; there will be more business,” Faley said. “This hotel is close enough that aviators and passengers and businessmen are going to be flowing in more if (the grant is passed). The hotel is stone’s throw away for those people.”

The grant would help fund the restoration of the airport’s medevac hangar, as well as the addition of a corporate hangar and a true terminal building. CAEDC Business Attraction Manager Mary Kuna identified these plans, paired with the hotel plan, as developments indicative of Cumberland County’s growing appeal.

“The presence of any hotel is always good for our county,” Kuna said. “It means people want to visit. Airport growth lends itself to more people visiting; they will need people to stay. I think (the hotel and restored airport) would work very well together.”

“The airport, I believe, is an asset,” Faley said. “It attracts business traffic and it also enables life line to get in and out quickly to serve portions of I-81 and municipalities in this area. If (CAEDC and the airport) get the grant, it’s going to help this area.”

The Microtel plan will be presented before the South Middleton Board of Supervisors at the meeting Feb. 25.

This article was published on Cumberlink.com.

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