Plunkett’s bed and breakfast under firePublished 9:02pm Saturday, November 3, 2012
Austin resident Peter Plunkett is preparing to turn his historic house into a bed and breakfast, but not all his neighbors are on board.
At a public hearing during Monday’s Austin City Council meeting, Plunkett will appeal for a conditional use permit to make part of his home a bed and breakfast. The owner of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed S. Pearl Elam house at 309 21st St. SW asked the Austin Planning Commission for a conditional use permit in October to turn the house into a small bed and breakfast. The motion passed with a 5-3 vote to send the matter to the City Council.
About 30 other neighbors, however, signed a letter speaking out against the bed and breakfast, describing the move as damaging to their property value and the peaceful nature of the neighborhood. They will have a chance to speak out against the permit Monday.
Some are in favor of the development. The Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau wrote a letter of support on Plunkett’s behalf Oct. 9, noting it was good for tourism, and several of Plunkett’s neighbor’s have also moved to support him.
The home has been in Plunkett’s family since 1989. He said in October people have stopped by his house through the years to take pictures, and some have asked to see the inside, so he sees this as a way to promote tourism in Austin.
“The Elam home is the object of much curiosity and interest by the public as evidenced by many who drive by slowly to take a look,” Plunkett wrote in a letter to the Planning Commission.
He said he will keep it low-key, with no parties or special events, he won’t sell food or liquor, and won’t have signs that will intrude on neighbors. He said he will still live there, but the back half of the home will be divided and accommodate one or two couples.
“It’s a low-key type of thing, but it’s really a great deal for Austin to have a famous architect on display,” Plunkett said.
During the meeting, the council will also decide whether to:
—grant the Planning and Zoning Department the power to contract to remove junk and illegally stored vehicles from four Austin properties: 1008 Oakland Ave. W, 1007 Fifth Ave. NE, 1005 Eighth Ave. NE, 1005 Fifth Ave. NE.
—allow Sterling State Bank to block off the west end of First Avenue Southwest in front of the bank from 3 to 8 p.m. Nov. 29 for wagon rides.
—allow the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce to use Main Street from Fourth to First avenues and the city’s portable stage for its Christmas in the City kickoff Nov. 23.
—No work session will follow Monday’s council meeting.
—Adam Harringa contributed to this report.