Council denies bed and breakfast

Published 11:08 pm Friday, October 18, 2019

Suffolk City Council denied a request Wednesday for a conditional use permit to operate a bed and breakfast in the Nansemond River Estates neighborhood after neighbors spoke out against it.

Following a public hearing, the council voted 7-0 to deny the permit request, with Councilman Roger Fawcett absent. The Planning Commission had previously recommended denying the request in September by a 5-3 vote.

Tiffnee Yancey, the owner of the home at 3404 Dumpling Court, had asked for the permit to operate the bed and breakfast using three of the home’s bedrooms after learning she was not in compliance with city code because she had been operating an Airbnb out of her home.

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At a public hearing during the commission meeting, four residents spoke out against it, saying people that had stayed at the property made too much noise, got drunk and parked their cars all over the cul-de-sac and beyond, blocking some people from getting out of their driveways.

Yancey has lived at the home since 2015 and acknowledged the issues that neighbors cited, and she apologized for those. She started listing her home on Airbnb last December and said the first time she heard complaints about her property was in May. At that point, she changed her listing, she said, to not allow alcohol for anyone staying in her home.

Yancey said she pulled the listing in June when the city sent her a notice of violation for operating a residential hotel out of her home.

During Wednesday’s public hearing, Yancey was the only person to speak in favor of the permit. Nine people spoke against it, with more than 20 standing in the back of the council chambers in City Hall when one person asked how many people opposed the bed and breakfast.

Councilman Donald Goldberg, who made the motion to deny the permit for the bed and breakfast, cited its potential impact on the neighborhood as a reason to vote against it.

“I don’t see the usage as being proper there,” Goldberg said.

Councilman Mike Duman said the council could grant the exception if it was under the right circumstances and under acceptable conditions. He said neither was the case with Yancey’s bed and breakfast proposal. He suggested that the homeowners’ association in Nansemond Estates, in an effort to protect their property rights, make changes to not allow a bed and breakfast to protect the neighborhood even further.

“A conditional use permit, by nature, is an exception,” Duman said. “It’s something that’s normally not allowed by right in a particular zoning designation. So to grant permission … we have to consider the potential impacts on adjacent land and then, once again, recognize that whatever the activity is, it’s not generally allowed by-right in that area.”

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, who represents that area, said he had spoken to some of the neighbors and had taken their concerns to heart in voting to deny the permit.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said she doesn’t think a bed and breakfast is the right use for that neighborhood.

She wants the Planning Commission to look at the unified development ordinance to determine the proper placement of bed and breakfasts in the city. Council approved Bennett’s motion for that purpose.