Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Commercial rezoning request denied for bed-and-breakfast

February 27, 2008

It looks like one downtown Bonner Springs business won't be selling alcohol anytime soon.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Bonner Springs Planning Commission considered a request to rezone 221 Front St., home of the David House, to a C-1 commercial designation.

The David House is a business begun by Bonner Springs businessman Bryan Albers, owner and CEO of Able Inc., and is billed on its Web site as a place for hosting private dinners, wine tastings and a place to stay. The property is zoned as R-1A residential, and Albers' business has been operating with a special-use permit since opening November.

The rezoning request, Albers said, was made so the David House could sell alcohol.

Although guests at the house, which Albers described as a bed-and-breakfast, could bring their own alcohol, it turned out they wanted everything taken care, including alcohol, he said.

Attending the meeting were several residents who live near the David House. The neighbors argued against the rezoning on the grounds that a number of undesirable commercial uses could be made of the property if Albers sells it, and that the business will turn into a "party house," with the attendant noise and traffic issues as well as concern for the character of the neighborhood.

Marcia Hollenbeck, who said she'd lived at 216 W. Second St. for 22 years, said in her statement on behalf of the neighbors against the rezoning that the David House is "not a bed-and-breakfast" because it doesn't comply with the legal definition of such an establishment, because no family lives on the premises.

"It's going to be a party house," Hollenbeck said, before paying tribute to the buildings Albers renovated at 111 Oak St. and 220 Oak St., as "wonderful."

"This business is not in character with the neighborhood," Hollenbeck said. "This is the oldest part of Bonner - it's beautiful."

Kent Wilson, another neighbor who lives at 132 Elm St., said he and his wife, Stephanie, bought their house because they wanted a quiet neighborhood. But now they are already seeing issues resulting from the David House's operation, including parking overflow exceeding the business' nine spaces and increased traffic.

Wilson also cited an "increase in potentially undesirable foot traffic" in relation to the small children who live in the neighborhood and play outside.

Wilson said he was concerned also about the loss of value to the neighborhood homes, and his wife later said the couple had invested $60,000 in their home.

"If and when he sells," Wilson said, referring to Albers, "what opens up with the next buyer? I've seen a list of C-1 uses. : Most of them, none of you would want in your back yard."

Janet Warden, a resident at nearby 126 Elm St., said the possibility of the rezoning to a commercial use "breaks my heart at the potential of what could happen to the neighborhood."

Louise Verdict said she'd been to bed-and-breakfasts all around the Kansas City area and had never seen a bar in any of them.

"I'm not sure what the purpose of the building is," said Mary Redmond, who owns the nearby Frederick house.

Commissioner Malisa Wallace asked whether there would be an employee on the premises "so things won't get out of hand" before and after "liquor is shut off" and asked also about noise.

Albers said any time liquor would be served, there would be an employee present.

Enforcement of the city's noise ordinances is the job of the police, Slone said, and the enforcement of liquor laws is the responsibility of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.

Albers said he chose the house for its historic value and its tie to downtown and added he was perplexed at the number of complaints voiced about the venue's events, because "we haven't had that many events."

"Regardless of the outcome" of the night's vote, Albers said, he invited all the neighbors with concerns to come see the house, or to stop by the next time an event was taking place there.

Albers later added that he'd invested $500,000 in the property, including its purchase and the renovation of the house.

"The last thing I'm gonna want to do is have a party house and people tearing it up," Albers said.

"The things people's minds are turning to are not happening," Albers said, referring to descriptions of the place as a "party house."

Albers later told the Chieftain that an employee does in fact live at the house, even if she doesn't stay there every night.

Commissioner Craig Stephens asked whether it was possible to attach a condition to the rezoning change so that the property's designation revert to residential if the property were sold. It isn't possible, Slone said, because the designation applies to the land, not the owner.

Planning commissioners voted unanimously to deny the request, each including an explanation or qualification with their vote.

Albers said Wednesday he was withdrawing his request for the rezoning, instead of hoping for the City Council to override with a minimum two-thirds majority the Commission's vote.

Albers said he was also planning an event at the David House in which the neighbors could inspect the house, meet him, and, hopefully, ease their worries about goings-on there.

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