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Milton closes door on plan to rent home

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
March 21, 2012
— It was the not-quite-bed-and-breakfast that never was.

After a wave of complaints by neighbors at a city committee meeting last week and questions over the plan's legality, on Tuesday night the Milton City Council killed a request for a conditional-use permit by residents David and Barbara Bendlin to rent out part of the downstairs of their home to overnight guests.


The couple live at 656 Saint Johns Ave., which is in a residential subdivision on the south side. They wanted to rent space in the downstairs of their house for overnight guests, mostly tourists in town to visit local botanical gardens and area plant shops during the spring and summer.


The city of Milton does not have a hotel or other overnight lodging.


The Bendlins had submitted a proposal to the city's plan commission that showed they did not intend to modify their home or serve guests any meals, specifying that they didn't plan to run a bed-and-breakfast.


They had sought a conditional-use permit under zoning rules that govern residential home occupancy, rather than seek city permits to convert their house into a bed-and-breakfast.


That plan didn't fly with some of the Bendlins' neighbors, who told the plan commission at a public hearing last week that it could damage their property values and introduce a stream of strangers into the neighborhood, which they suggested could lead to safety and security concerns.


Others worried it would set a precedent for others who wanted to run similar businesses out of their homes.


After the hearing last week, the plan commission forwarded a recommendation to the council to deny the proposal because it seemed to constitute lodging rather than regular residential occupancy use.


City Attorney Mark Schroeder upheld the plan commission's opinion. He told the council Tuesday that descriptions of businesses identified in the city's zoning code as non-hotel lodging and "boarding house-type businesses" seem to match up with the Bendlins' proposed business plan.


He said zoning in Bendlins' neighborhood does not allow boarding house-style lodging as a conditional use.


Mayor Tom Chesmore, who also chairs the plan commission, said it was an open-and-shut decision for the commission to deny the plan.


The Bendlins did not attend the meeting Tuesday and The Gazette could not reach the couple for comment.



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