By Bonnie Culverhouse
You win some, you lose some and sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses.
A three-hour meeting of the Minden Planning Commission Thursday ended in a divided vote on a split variance to allow Jim Huffman of Huffman Management LLC to keep Grace Estate on Broadway as a Bed & Breakfast but not an event center after purchase.
“I propose we split this variance where we would actually take two separate motions,” commissioner Morris Busby said. “The first motion, we would address the bed and breakfast, hear the motion and request from Huffman Management LLC.
“Then we can move to the part about an event center,” he continued.
In his request and in the variance, Huffman asked to use more than 20 percent of the house at 1114 Broadway for sleeping rooms.
Huffman said he intends to renovate the inside of the home, as well as the carriage house on the property.
“About 70 percent would be utilized,” he said. “It’s because of a conversion of bathrooms and the rooms that are currently there to be purposed as sleeping rooms.”
Inside the actual residence, there will be five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. The carriage house will be renovated for two bedrooms and two bathrooms. There will also be a common room in the main house and a tea room that would serve small parties.
Members of the Minden Historical Residential District Association, as well as residents of the area around Grace Estate, expressed concerns about the outside of the residence, which must be compliant with the era.
The commission voted 3-2 to allow the zoning variance for Huffman to keep Grace Estate as a Bed & Breakfast. Morris Busby, Michael Davis and Sarah Haynes voted in favor, while Steve Wilson and Joeann McWoodson cast the two no votes.
But perhaps the most concern voiced was over the event center and past experiences that include large gatherings with loud music, fireworks and inebriated guests.
Huffman said he only intends to have small gatherings, with an occasional exception, and “no fireworks.”
“We will not be conducting any catering in the home itself,” he said. “All of that will come from outside sources.”
He also said the top number of persons at an event will be 100.
At the end of discussion, the commission voted 3-2 to disallow the variance for an event center. Haynes, Wilson and McWoodson voted against allowing the event center, while Busby and Davis voted in favor of it.
Huffman has 14 days to appeal the commission’s ruling with Minden City Council. It will require a 4-1 vote by the council to overturn the commission’s decision.
However, if Huffman does not win the appeal or doesn’t file one, he must wait an entire year before bringing it before the MPC again.
Immediately following the meeting, Huffman said he is unsure if he will file an appeal.
“My knee-jerk reaction is not to,” he said. “But I need a little bit of time to get to that place.”
“I feel good,” Leslie Rainer with the Historic Residential District Association said. “It’s so important to remember that the Historic Residential District is on the National Register and the neighborhood was overwhelmingly against an event center. It also impacted the neighborhood on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
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