Nevada City planners hold off on B&B ordinance |

Nevada City planners hold off on B&B ordinance

Nevada City planning commissioners sent a controversial bed-and-breakfast ordinance back to staff for modifications and will revisit the issue in a few weeks.

The ordinance would have opened a pathway for downtown’s Aaron Sargent House – formerly Grandmere’s Inn – to re-open as a B&B after nearly a year standing vacant in foreclosure.

At a lengthy, sometimes tense meeting Thursday, commissioners said they felt uncomfortable that the ordinance seemed too specific to the Sargent House, and did not address ambiguities in the city’s B&B policies.

“I think we need to look at the general before we look at the specific,” said commissioner Bob Wright.

Commissioners plan to modify the language before moving it forward to the city council, which requested such an ordinance in the first place.

Andy Howard, who owns the Emma Nevada House and serves as a part-time city treasurer, wants to convert the Sargent House into an upscale B&B, which it was from 1988 to 2004. It later became a private residence and its use permits lapsed.

Some neighbors and innkeepers contend re-opening the property would violate a 1994 vote. A previous city attorney took that position; Nevada City Attorney Hal DeGraw is adamant it won’t.

If the measure fails at the commission and council levels and goes back to voters, it will be too late, Howard said – he and fellow investors are in the midst of a 90-day escrow on the property.

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