RIDGELAND — A 180-day moratorium on new hotel and motel construction was approved by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

They voted 5-0 to pass the moratorium Tuesday night. Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier excused himself from voting due to conflicts of interest. Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith was absent for that part of the meeting.

Mayor Gene F. McGee said after the meeting that the board had discussed the subject at the previous evening’s work session.

The moratorium went into immediate effect Tuesday evening.

“The board wants to look at future planning and make sure what we are bringing into town is top of line,” McGee said. “I think this a great example of our board making sure that this town is the best we can be.”

He added that the city did not want to be overcome by subpar developments.

McGee said that there were three current hotel projects that he knew of, including a proposed hotel at the Township, which would not be affected by the moratorium.

Community Development Director Alan Hart said that a Tru by Hilton and a Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express Dual Brand that is in it’s earliest stages, but not under construction are affected by this moratorium.

This project was denied a variance for a third floor in February and was set to go up at the corner of Frontage Road and West Ridgeland Avenue. Developers have said they would like to complete the project by late-2017 or early-2018.

The resolution does not mention any specific action, except to conduct a “study.” Language in the resolution says that the city would like to “study certain site plan, design, architectural and construction standards, similar to standards that are found in overlay districts and would be designed to enhance new hotel and motel projects.”

According to the city’s zoning ordinance, hotel and motel use is currently allowed as a “permitted use” in districts zoned C-2, C-2A, C-3 and MU-1.

Hart said that his department would handle the study, though they have not ruled out the possibility of bringing in outside help as the study matures.

“The Community Development staff will be studying various approaches as direction and input from the Mayor and Board continues to be gathered. It is possible that outside assistance will be needed depending on the direction and study needs,” Hart said.

The resolution specifically says the 180-day moratorium is established for all new hotel or motel construction unless they are within an existing or future approved overlay district.

The mayor and board hold the right to extend or repeal the moratorium. It allows for any applicant that is aggrieved by this moratorium while it remains in effect to appeal the moratorium by filing a request with the city clerk to go argue their case to city officials at regularly scheduled meetings for an exemption.

“The Mayor and Board of Alderman continue to aim to make the best planning decisions for the long-term sustainability of the City of Ridgeland,” the resolution reads in part. “The City desires to maintain the status quo, except as otherwise provided, until such study can be completed.”

About four citizens appeared to be present concerning the moratorium, though they were not given an opportunity to speak for or against the resolution, neither did they speak up when the issue came up.

The moratorium can be viewed here http://ridgelandms.boardsync.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=3190