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The Niagara County Planning Board took the first step Monday in approving the expansion of Lockport Motel.

Meanwhile, the architect of a proposed hotel a half-mile away said changes in the design have delayed the project's progress through local government boards.

Lockport Motel, 315 S. Transit St., is seeking to rezone its 238-by-430-foot property from residential to business to make way for an expansion from 65 to 97 units. The rezoning is needed because the motel is now operating by virtue of a zoning variance, and that variance does not allow the business to expand.

The county Planning Board unanimously recommended the rezoning request Monday. The next steps are a vote by the City of Lockport Planning Board on Oct. 2 and a public hearing and vote on the rezoning by the Common Council on Oct. 4.

Howard Mandell, the engineer on the project, said the motel will expand to the west on property already owned by the people who own the motel, Richard and Mary Lou Granchelli. Its three existing buildings will be joined by two more structures and 31 additional parking spaces.

Three homes are on the affected property; Mandell said one will be demolished. They are all Granchelli-owned.

Granchelli said it will take about eight months to construct the project once it is approved. After the rezoning, the site plan would have to be approved by the county and city planning boards.

Mandell said the expansion of Lockport Motel has been in the works for three or four years, and was not a reaction to the news that a Holiday Inn Express was being planned for a site on Ruhlman Road just west of South Transit Street.

"This isn't something we came up with in reaction to the other rezoning," Mandell said, but he told the board that the Granchellis want the Lockport Motel project to move as quickly as possible.

"As a matter of business, we want to get started," he said.

Meanwhile, the site plan approval for Holiday Inn Express, which already received its rezoning for the Ruhlman Road site, is delayed by a redesign of the project.

Charles A. Dahlke, the architect designing the project for MWT Architects, said the original plan for a three-story, 71-room hotel is being changed to a two-story, 60-room structure.

In addition, an indoor swimming pool, which was to be in a separate building under the original plan, would be in the same building with the hotel rooms.

Dahlke said the developer, Woodbury Hotel Corp. of Batavia, expects to have its site plan before the county Planning Board on Oct. 16. City Planning Board approval would have to follow, perhaps on Nov. 6.

Holiday Inn Express, whose franchise affiliation is still subject to change, is to be built just west of the Aldi Foods store on a 2.37-acre parcel owned by Richard Granchelli's brother, Elmer A.

The Common Council rezoned that land from residential to business on Aug. 15.

The new hotel would be the fourth major lodging in Lockport. Besides Lockport Motel, the city has a 95-room Best Western and a 50-room Comfort Inn.

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