While P&Z approved tea rooms for bed and breakfasts in October, it did not define the term tea room. To help it do that, P&Z has planned a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday for bed and breakfast owners and their neighbors.
In seeking the moratorium, P&Z was asking the City Commission to give it some time to hold the meeting and decide how tea rooms will be treated before they open. The issue stemmed from plans for a tea room at Aspen Hall Manor for use by the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Many of the neighbors of the historic home do not want what will amount to a restaurant in their residential area.
P&Z attorney David Patrick explained Tuesday that if tea rooms are classified as a conditional use rather than an accessory use, then the bed and breakfast owners would have to go before the Board of Adjustments and Appeals, which could then set parameters for each individual tea room and the neighbors' concerns could be taken into consideration.
Bed and breakfast at Aspen Hall opening this month
But, Patrick said, the zoning panel needs some time to decide which classification under which tea rooms fall. Jill and Andrew Romero, owners of Aspen Hall, plan to open the bed and breakfast at the end of this month, but the date for the tea room opening has not been set.
"We don't have time to get this process started," Patrick said. To deem tea rooms conditional use, the city and county zoning laws will have to be amended.
"Until we have that discussion, we can't make that decision," he said. "We want you to give us a chance to decide so we don't keep walking into land mines."
"I think you have rules that govern this, and I think you ought to follow them," Taylor told Patrick.
"My position is the city hasn't taken any action," said Commissioner Eddie Long. Long attended a zoning board meeting last week and heard the concerns of Aspen Hall neighbors. He made the motion to set the moratorium and Commissioner Jack Springate seconded the motion.
Hearing that, Taylor spoke again. "You do what you want to do, but I'm telling you this is the law," the city attorney said.
Approving the minutes means they're law
P&Z decisions are recommendations to the city and county. Once the Harrodsburg City Commission and the Mercer County Fiscal Court approve the minutes of zoning panel meetings, the two bodies have accepted the board's recommendations and, Taylor said, they are law
"You've got a regulation that has been passed," Taylor said. "I'm trying to protect the city; I'm trying to keep you straight."
With that, the vote was held. Long and Springate voted for the moratorium and Mayor Lonnie Campbell and Commissioners Joe Hood and Kevin Perkins voted against it.
After the meeting, Taylor put a finer point on the issue. "I play defense," he said. "I don't believe you can change the rules in the middle of the game. That's a good way to get yourself beat in a lawsuit."