Kendall House Bed & Breakfast permitted in Nevada City; opponents announce intention to file suit
Story so far
May 14, 2014 — Nevada City Kendall House B&B unlikely to reopen
May 16, 2014 — Nevada City denies request to reopen Kendall House B&B
June 13, 2014 — Kendall House files appeal with Nevada City Council
June 30, 2014 — Nevada City attorney: Reverse the decision on Kendall House
Aug. 29, 2014 — Nevada City council gives Kendall House B&B the go-ahead
After months of delay, argument, serial news coverage and occasionally embittered public comments over plans to re-open a bed and breakfast facility at 534 Spring St. in Nevada City, the San Francisco couple who recently purchased the property now have a permit to open for business.
But the matter might not yet be resolved, as a letter announcing an intent to file litigation has been delivered to Nevada City officials.
On Oct. 22 Nevada City council members voted 3-2, with Mayor Terri Andersen and Vice-Mayor Jennifer Ray dissenting, in their “final decision” on the matter. Based on recommendations from city staff, they found the conditional use permit issued in 1991 “continues to regulate any use for a bed and breakfast inn, which may be re-commenced or re-operated on the site.”
“They’ve wanted to use it as a bed and breakfast all along,” said Allan Haley, the attorney representing Kendall House owners Mollie Poe and Declan Hickey.
Initially, the Nevada City Planning Commission told Haley’s clients that would not be possible to re-open the bed and breakfast. That all changed when they hired an attorney, who determined the city had been using the wrong section of its own municipal code to decide the matter.
Nevada City’s own city attorney later wrote a statement agreeing with Haley’s conclusion.
“One of the fundamental things you do when you get into a case is start looking at the law,” Haley said. “And that’s what I did.”
Haley said his clients do intend to reopen the inn at some point in the future, though the timing is currently uncertain. But a group of nearby homeowners have other plans.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the city received a letter from attorney Tamara S. Galanter serving notice that the Friends of Nevada City intend to litigate the matter. The letter says that the city’s decision to uphold Poe and Hickey’s appeal is “an abuse of discretion” which is contrary to state and local law.
“If the City would like to discuss options for avoiding time consuming and costly litigation, please let Friends of Nevada City know by November 13, 2014. Otherwise, Friends of Nevada City will proceed with preparation of its lawsuit,” the letter reads.
Galanter declined to comment when contacted at her office Thursday afternoon. Laurie Oberholtzer, a leading member of Friends of Nevada City, likewise declined to comment.
Councilman Duane Strawser called their threat of legal action disappointing.
“If this comes to happen, it’s very disappointing that anyone calling themselves Friends of Nevada City would actually create potential litigation that would cost all of the citizens of Nevada City financially,” Strawser said.
“It’s also unfortunate that when things change, people can’t accept the fact that what was good in the 1990s isn’t necessarily good in 2015,” he added.
Strawser said the Kendall House owners found a loophole in the original ordinance, and that the council voted in good conscience based on the facts available to them at the time. They had hoped to avoid litigation with Poe and Hickey if their appeal was denied.
The city reportedly also offered Friends of Nevada City the opportunity to help re-write the bed and breakfast ordinance to avoid situations like this in the future.
“We thought we could offer both sides a very doable solution,” Strawser said.
City Manager Mark Prestwich declined to comment on the threat of pending litigation, but did provide The Union with a copy of the letter from Friends of Nevada City’s attorney.
To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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