P&Z approves Victorian bed and breakfast

KENT — Following a public hearing and discussion, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) at its meeting Thursday, March 14, unanimously approved a special permit application from 81 Victorian Kent for a change of use from boarding house to bed and breakfast.

Wesley Wyrick, P&Z chairman, indicated that the application applied only to the front building, the gingerbread Victorian dating to the 1880s, not to the apartment building in the rear.

The property on North Main Street had been purchased two years ago by its present owner, John McPhee, who said the property consists of two separate buildings. The rear building has eight rental units while the old house in front with five bedrooms operated as a boarding house, limited by zoning to six paying guests.

The boarding house has been operating as a bed and breakfast for years, McPhee reported.

“We’re trying to make this conform to zoning regulations,” McPhee said, adding that there is a full-time manager occupying an apartment attached to the house.

Wyrick discussed a P&Z concern about “owner vs. manager,” as the regulations stipulate that the owner must live on site. Following discussion, the P&Z felt that the issue is whether a manager can substitute for an owner’s presence. McPhee had indicated that he also owns the property across the street, although he resides elsewhere.

Ultimately, the P&Z concurred that the special permit application is site-specific.

“If we are allowing this to be a boarding house, we should allow it to be used as a bed and breakfast,” P&Z member Karen Casey said. “They are almost identical uses.

”Parking was determined to be adequate for the new use, offering 30 spaces. A report from the Sewer Commission is pending.

“Kent needs accommodations for overnight guests,” Wyrick said.

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