Plan Commission Votes Down Proposed Guidelines for Bed and Breakfast Hotel and Events Venue

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Published on February 12 2014 4:19 am
Last Updated on February 12 2014 4:21 am
Written by Greg Sapp

After much discussion, the Effingham City Plan Commission Tuesday voted against proposed guidelines under which the historic Austin Mansion would be operated as a bed-and-breakfast establishment and hotel and events venue.

The facility, which has been used as part of a college complex, a private home, a bed-and-breakfast and an apartment house, was recently purchased by Billi Jansen.  Jansen owns Walnut Street Weddings and has an office in downtown Effingham.  She hopes to utilize the mansion in conjunction with her business.  In addition to using the facility as a bed-and-breakfast, Jansen had requested permission to hold outdoor weddings.

As proposed, the bed-and-breakfast would accommodate up to seven lodging rooms with a breakfast meal provided lodgers.

Regarding the special events, Jansen proposed small events for less than 50 guests and large events for up to 250 guests.  Large events would be restricted to holidays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, while small events could take place any day of the week.  If music was a part of the gathering, it would be ended by 10pm.  No more than 25 vehicles could park at the facility at any one time and guidelines would be in place to require guests to adhere to parking restrictions in the neighborhood.

Local businessman Dave Ring testified on Jansen's behalf, saying the purchase meant the historic structure would be maintained, and that the facility would be operated as a business rather than reverting to an apartment building as was the case in the building's more seedy days.

Nearby neighbors Tony Siemer, Steve McNaughton, Wes Ware and Jeanna Hook all testified against the proposal.  Primary areas of concern were parking issues, the noise and the potential crowd of up to 250 people at some events.  

City Engineer Jeremy Heuerman also presented the City's concerns regarding the proposal before the vote came to deny the proposal.

Meanwhile, the Plan Commission approved site plans for commercial developments.

One project concerns the Roy Schmidt Honda dealership to be located at the West Fayette Avenue interstate interchange.  The facility, to be built next to Effingham Truck Sales, will have access off the interstate frontage road and via a street extension to the east or south.  There will be parking for 346 vehicles to be sold at the dealership.

Another endeavor is a four-building facility to be known as Marion Eye Center.  The operation will be located on the northeast corner of Keller Drive and Kentucky Avenue, and will include a medical office and a business office among the four buildings.

A third enterprise approved is a new NAPA Auto Parts store to be located at 1201 South Banker next to Nuxoll Food Center.

The Commission also recommended the City Council approve a plat of a third addition to West Fayette Avenue Commercial Park, recommended the Council approve an amendment to the Subdivision Ordinance concerning water mains as well as streets, sidewalks and drainage, and recommended property west across from the Effingham High School sports complex at 701 Schwerman Street be rezoned from non-urban to highway commercial district.

All of those items were approved without opposition.