Covington developing policy for Twelve Oaks

COVINGTON — After receiving complaints from nearby residents about the frequent closing of Monticello Street for events at The Twelve Oaks Bed and Breakfast, city officials are working on a policy to appease both the business owner and citizens.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston recommended at the City Council’s Sept. 16 meeting that street closings be limited to one hour, 15 minutes, and that nearby residents be notified of closures. No such policy is currently in place, but the council decided to limit the time of the closing of Monticello between Ivy and Church streets to one hour, 15 minutes, for weddings scheduled on Oct. 5 and Nov. 16. The initial request for the Oct. 5 wedding was for the street to be closed from 3:15 to 5 p.m., while the Nov. 16 request was for the recommended time limit.

Johnston said the council is taking the position of working out solutions between private businesses and government while protecting citizens.

He said he would bring a detailed agreement before the council at a later date.

Twelve Oaks owner Nicole Greer said there have been seven weddings at the inn this year plus two large charity events — one to benefit Newton Medical Center and the other to benefit Phoenix Pass and Lighthouse Village in Conyers.

“When we have an event here, we allow outside vendors, which means local caterers, florists, rental companies, photographers, local hotels, bakers and many other local companies benefit. It is a huge infusion of capital that goes into the local economy and creates jobs. We are working together with the city to create a policy to make weddings in Covington amazing,” Greer said. “Imagine being known as the town that shuts down a street for a wedding; brides love that along with the charming small town feel and we get brides from Atlanta as well as local brides that want to get married here. When the street is shut down, it will only be the section of Monticello immediately in front of The Twelve Oaks and only for no more than an hour and 15 minutes. Church Street runs parallel almost directly beside it so there is easy access to the downtown area and around the small section that would be blocked.”

Greer said she is working to address public concerns.

“We are opening an additional parking lot on our property for events that will accommodate up to 50 cars that will provide ample parking for most events. In addition, we are also working with some nearby parking lots and I’m developing a partnership with Fat Boys golf carts to provide transportation for guests from nearby lots for any events that need it. We also are going to begin notifying neighbors in the vicinity whenever we have an event. We require in our event contract that events end by 10 p.m. and that local law enforcement is hired for any events anticipating more than 50 cars.”

The circa-1836 antebellum home at 2176 Monticello St. has undergone a major renovation since Greer purchased it in 2011. She named it Twelve Oaks after the home of the character Ashley Wilkes in the movie, “Gone with the Wind.” Greer said that Margaret Mitchell saw a photo of the home in the Atlanta Journal in 1939 and told set designers she wanted it used as a model for Ashley’s home.

Fans of “The Vampire Diaries” often stay there and tour filming locations in town.

Earlier this year, Twelve Oaks was named a Top 10 Luxury Inn by BedandBreakfast.com. Since opening in 2012, Twelve Oaks has welcomed visitors from all over the world, including Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand and Denmark.