Bexley's first bed and breakfast is closer to becoming a reality after City Council voted at a July 30 special meeting to change legislation approving the development from an ordinance to a variance.
Matt Lampke, chairman of council's Zoning and Development Committee, made the motion to withdraw Ordinance 3113 and amend the legislation to a variance that would allow applicants Michael and Lesli Mautz to convert a property at 519 S. Drexel Ave. into a bed and breakfast.
Lampke said the change to a variance was prompted, in part, by the lack of opposition from the property's neighbors. No one against the bed and breakfast at the July 30 meeting.
"I believe the community approves of this particular bed and breakfast, so it would be a variance rather than an ordinance," Lampke said.
Another reason for the change is that the applicants have said the bed and breakfast will have five bedrooms, and Ohio law defines bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels as having more than five rooms available for occupancy, Lampke said.
The variance will include all the conditions of the ordinance, he added, including that the business only be allowed to serve breakfast meals to patrons, rather than lunch and dinner.
"When you start offering lunch and dinners, it could be used as a restaurant and people could walk in off the street," Lampke said.
Mrs. Mautz said she and her husband are satisfied with the conditions attached to the variance.
"We want this to go forward," she said. "If this is going from an ordinance to a variance, that's fine."
Several council members questioned whether granting the variance would make it easier for other applicants to open bed and breakfasts in areas where the use may not be as suitable as the Drexel Avenue location, which is near the East Main Street commercial corridor.
"I would rather introduce something in our code that talks about bed and breakfasts before we allow a variance," Councilman Mark Masser said.
City Attorney Louis Chodosh said the city has the option of evaluating bed-and-breakfastt applications on a case-by-case basis.
"Council will still have to approve every bed and breakfast as it comes forward," he said.
Mayor Ben Kessler said the city will notify surrounding neighbors of the variance for the Drexel Avenue property.
"Per standard operating procedure for a variance, we'll notify within a certain area of the property," he said.
Council members voted to table the bed-and-breakfast variance until their Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting, at which time the public will be allowed to give input before council takes action.