Former funeral home building on Cross Street. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)Former funeral home building on Cross Street. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Proposed Dresden hotel passes in council

CK councillors have approved a motion that will allow a former funeral home in Dresden to be transformed into a hotel.

The vacant building located at 620 Cross St. was once home to the Thomas L DeBurger Funeral Home, which closed in 2016 and was bought a year a later by a Guelph investor who is aiming to convert it into a 13-unit hotel or an eight-unit apartment.

Council approved a motion for zoning and official plan amendments to permit the hotel at a meeting on Monday. The motion passed 15-1.

Councillor Derek Robertson was optimistic about the project, noting that there is currently no hotel in Dresden and visitors to the town have to stay in neighbouring communities.

“Anything that can preserve a part of our history should be done,” said Robertson. “There’s a real gap that we have in every corner of Chatham-Kent and that’s hotel space.“

Tom Storey of Storey Samways Planning spoke on behalf of the Guelph investor and was adamant that if the motion wasn’t passed, the historic building will become neglected.

“This is an existing building that has been well maintained, will add value, has historical significance,” said Storey. “If this project doesn’t go through, the building will either be demolished or go derelict. It has historical value.”

The notion of preserving the historic building didn’t impress two Dresden residents who spoke to council and expressed their disdain for the project.

Nancy Richards and Doug Shaw had passion in their voices as they discussed their concerns with bringing a hotel to the residential area. These worries included a lack of parking, an increase in traffic and the potential for decreased home values.

The building currently has an eight-space parking lot which they said would bring an increase in street parking to the quiet neighbourhood.

Councillor Frank Vercouteren echoed the resident’s statements and estimated that increased street parking would cause home values could go down by 20 per cent.

Storey admitted that roadside parking would be necessary from time to time but argued that the benefits would outweigh the negatives and the possibility of parking lot expansion may be looked at in the future.

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