Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hotel Owner Cancels Outdoor Event Plans

By Nao Braverman
Lee Clukey, owner of the proposed Inn Harmony hotel, confirmed that he is not currently submitting plans to build a two-story extension to the former apartment complex on 308 N. Signal St., nor will the hotel be hosting any outdoor events for the time being.
The only changes that the Clukeys are currently proposing for the Signal Street building are to widen the 20-foot-long outdoor deck by 7 feet and a bring an existing cottage back to code, said Clukey. If all goes well they hope to complete all the construction and open in mid July.
The main building of the hotel will have four bedrooms and an attached unit for the Clukeys to live in and manage the grounds. A back cottage, which was built by the previous owners and is not yet permitted, will be brought to code, and hopefully function as a fifth bedroom, said Clukey,
Breakfast and wine will be served to hotel guests only and must not leave the premises.
Their initial plans to build a two-story extension were to add a second story to their living quarters on the Inn property, not to build another room said Clukey.
Though they may consider such an extension in the future, the Clukeys decided to withdraw their request after repeated complaints from a neighbor whose view would be obstructed by the added construction.
“We are not going to expand the unit unless the neighbor and I can come to an agreement,” he said.
Clukey said he opted to withdraw his request to hold outdoor events on the property after learning that some neighbors had complained about the excessive noise.
He added that he might ask for permission to host events in the future but only after a sound engineer completed a study that would help them keep the noise below the city code’s thresholds. But all ideas are still speculative and no such plans will be submitted at this stage, he said.
Though the inn is relatively small and will be serving breakfast only, Clukey said he has labeled it a hotel because it is one of the allowed appropriate uses for Ojai buildings in a village mixed use zone. To call it a bed-and-breakfast, he would have to apply for a conditional use permit which would cost him thousands of dollars.
City planner for the project, Kanika Kith, said that she didn’t know why Ojai’s VMU areas include hotels but not bed and breakfasts as appropriate uses.
Clukey said his initial intention was to open a small, moderately priced, classy five-room inn and called it a hotel rather than a bed and breakfast to comply with the city’s zoning ordinance.
“This isn’t going to be a huge money-maker, we’re doing it for fun,” he said.
Though the city received 10 letters of complaint from residents in the inn’s neighborhood as well as several phone calls, Clukey said that over the weekend 30 passersby signed a petition that the inn would offer a welcome contribution to the city. In addition the inn was well-received by an Ojai Valley Inn employee and the city building inspector and code enforcement officer, he said.

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