Twelve Oaks approved by council to host private events

COVINGTON — Wedding receptions, banquets and other events at Twelve Oaks will continue to be hosted by bed and breakfast owner Nicole Greer, but with many specifications.

The Planning Commission recommended the Covington City Council approve Greer’s request to remove the word “only” from the use permit for a “bed and breakfast” in order for her to host private events on the 2176 Monticello St. property but with two conditions: no on-street parking and the noise ordinance must be followed.

However, Greer’s attorney, John Nix and Attorney Michael Geoffroy, who represented the residents surrounding Twelve Oaks, sat down with the two parties following the more than two-hour planning commission meeting on Feb. 11 in order to come up with a list of nine conditions that would satisfy all involved.

Those conditions are as follows:

• Scope: With the exception of private events associated with the property’s residential use, all special events on the property will be considered an accessory to the bed and breakfast use.

• The site: Tents or other non-permanent enclosures may be added for one-day use. All lighting associated with the event should be directed away from residential properties. Tents shouldn’t be erected more than 48 hours before the event and should be removed 48 hours after the event.

• Parking: In addition to the paved parking on the property, additional parking for no more than 50 vehicles should be allowed on the grassed area to the rear of the property. On-street parking should not be permitted.

• Noise restrictions: The sound level of all amplified or live music, whether inside or outside, should be in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance.

• Hours of operation: Special events may be conducted between the following hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Alcoholic beverages served on-site should not be served past stated closing times.

• Road closures: The owner/operator or guests of property will not apply for road closures unless exceptional circumstances are presented.

• Notice: A monthly calendar should be published on the owner’s website depicting the scheduling of every event with more than 75 persons planned for the property. Residents may request in writing a monthly calendar.

• Large outdoor special events: Special events conducted outdoors that involve more than 75 guests and outdoor amplified sound will be limited to 12 such events per calendar year. No more than two of such events should occur in any one month. The events should be capped at a total of 200 persons at any time, which includes vendors, employees, residents and anyone else servicing or attending the event.

• The 19 events calendared and contracted for 2014 shall not be subject to the provisions of conditions No. 2 through No. 8 when any term of an existing contract is in conflict with said provisions.

Because the agreement noted that Greer’s 19 contracts for receptions and ceremonies for 2014 would not be subject to those provisions, the council was concerned the on-street parking would continue to be the issue.

The two groups reviewed and agreed upon the contract of conditions at 4 p.m. Monday just two hours before the council meeting, according to Geoffroy.

“We did come together to hold a neighborhood meeting and talk about concerns. We know this house is a treasure and sits in unique area,” Geoffroy said. “The neighbors showed leadership to address their concerns, but really wanted to support Twelve Oaks.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the request to remove “only” from the bed and breakfast use permit and the conditions provided by the attorneys, but with the exception that the no on-street parking stipulation would take effect immediately.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said if the conditions weren’t put into place immediately it would be harder for the residents and bed and breakfast owner to build better relationships going into the future.

“Her (Greer’s) success depends on the relationships of her neighbors,” Williams said.

Williams also apologized to the citizens for “dropping the ball” on this issue.

“I’m glad citizens got together, but they feel they were slighted and petitions were not acknowledged. I don’t want citizens to think there’s any backroom discussions and prior decisions made,” Williams said. “The noise ordinance was not paid attention to and there’s parking on the street. We really dropped the ball on the issues and I apologize to my constituency.”

Mayor Ronnie Johnston extended an apology along with other council members, but he also congratulated the residents.

“I want to apologize but also congratulate the group of people who came together in a very orderly way. It wasn’t a mess at the planning commission meeting, we had people voice concerns,” Johnston said. “I’m even more excited about Covington because we’re not perfect, but we adjust. Proud of the city and citizens who worked it out.”