Saying wedding and baby showers might disturb the neighbors, the Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) postponed action Tuesday night on a request to open a small party room in a residential property in Downtown Pacific.
Trudy Nickelson, Designs of Ambiance, LLC, recently purchased the Uncle Willie Morrill house at 415 W. St. Louis St. She wants to live on the second floor and host small events, such as showers, after-funeral luncheons and even small weddings on the first floor.
Since the area is zoned R-1 residential, she needs a conditional use permit (CUP) to operate the small events venue.
Morrill, a railroad conductor, built the Victorian-style house in the 1890s to match the row of shingled mansions on Adelaide Street. He designed a central staircase and two wings, one side for his daughters and one for his sons.
Nickelson said the split foyer of the house offers an ideal setting for small elegant parties.
“It would be ideal for a second marriage (celebration) and there are no venues presently available for events this size,” she said.
Nickelson said she would not provide any food. Clients would use caterers or bring in their own food. She would use her dishes, which would add to the elegance of the events.
City Zoning Officer Anna Hodge recommended approval of the permit on condition that the occupancy would be limited to 30 individuals and hours would not extend beyond 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Hodge also said the property is currently underutilized and private investment could provide a positive impact to the services available in the general area.
P&Z Chairman Linda Bruns, who lives two doors west of the location, said she worries that the business might disturb the neighbors.
Bruns said she did not want the commission to vote on the request.
“I want to hear from the fire department and the health department,” she said.
Hodge said her role as zoning officer and the P&Z’s role in the CUP application process is just to determine if the requested use meets the standards of the zoning code 405.040.
“This was the code I used to determine if the use meets the standards,” Hodge said. “It does meet the standards.”
As the zoning officer, Hodge would be the person to issue an occupancy permit after the building inspector inspected the property and determined the occupancy load.
“Those would be code enforcement questions,” she said.
Bruns said she was not ready to act on the matter. She asked Don and Sue Caldwell, who own the building next door to the proposed venue and were in the audience, to speak to the issue.
Sue Caldwell said they have renters in the property and don’t want to lose their renter. She said she worries that people coming out of the party venue in the evening might stand on the sidewalk and talk, which would disturb her renter.
Hodge left the meeting during the discussion.
“It was my understanding that the hearing was just to determine whether the property met the standard for a conditional use,” she later told The Missourian. “I followed the city zoning code 405.040. I was caught off guard when the discussion went so far.”
Other commissioners supported Bruns’ request to delay action.
Donna Brocato said if the clients were allowed to bring alcoholic beverages someone could walk outside with a glass of wine.
“If the rule is that people cannot carry drinks outside, I won’t allow them to carry drinks outside,” Nickelson said. “I will do whatever the city requires.”
Jim Smith, who said he lives three blocks away, also wanted to delay action. He said if Nickelson was going to use her own dishes the Franklin County Health Department would require her to have commercial dishwashing equipment.
Smith suggested Nickelson meet with the health department and the fire department before coming back before P&Z.
“You should have checked all this out before you bought the property,” Smith said.
No action was taken. The public hearing was continued to the next P&Z meeting for July 23.