OAKHURST – After much excitement and activity last year surrounding the building of three new hotels on Highway 41 in Oakhurst, things ground to a halt. On Friday, Sept. 26, developer Paul Patel pulled permits at the County and will able to proceed with the project, according to Madera County Building Official Harry Hinton.
“Mr. Patel has the permits he needs from the County to get to work on all three hotels,” says Hinton.
Patel says the project will bring an estimated 50 jobs to the area when the three hotels are built – a Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn – each with 108 rooms.
The project is located on the west side of Highway 41 between Hartwell Road and Winding Way.
The final part of the permit process is submitting plans to Cal Trans for their approval, as the burying of sewer lines may encroach on Highway 41 and impact traffic. Patel says that will need to happen before they move forward.
There are restrictions on how far the building process can go initially, because there must be a water storage tank, a water pump, and a connection to Hillview Water in the event of a fire.
One main point of contention throughout the process, which began in late 2013 and has stalled at various points along the way, has been the requirements by both the County and State in regard to fire protection, according to Hinton.
There must be a 462,000 gallon water tank in place during the later stages of construction, and to subsequently ensure the safety of guests and employees should a fire break out. That has still not happened.
Hinton says construction can begin on the foundation, the plumbing and the framing, and the installation of the plywood on the floors and the roof. However, beyond the “sticks in the air” that frame in the walls, the construction can’t proceed until fire protection is in place.
One of the fire safety measures built into the construction plans is treated wood, which will still burn, but with a flame spread rate of only about 25 percent that of non-treated wood, according to County Fire Marshall Deborah Keenan. After sitting on the site for over a year, the wood has been subjected to prolonged exposure to weather, which could have degraded the treatment. The developer will have to get approval from the original manufacturer stating that the treatment is still 100 percent up to standards. If that certification is not forthcoming, he may have to purchase new lumber.
Hinton says County permits for the entire project totaled around $260,000, though that includes not only building permits, but also fees for road impact, the Sheriff’s Office, school and library fees and numerous other departments.
Patel did not wish to comment on a timeline or any details of the project, stating it is “too early to discuss anything at this point; we have no idea when we’re going to start moving forward.”