Homer’s beleaguered Bay View Inn just received another setback from the city council. The historic inn did not receive “grandfather rights” during the Oct. 14 meeting.
The inn has been in operation since the 1950s. But after annexation in the 80s, the city changed the zoning of that area to “rural residential.” Former Council Member Dennis Novak owned and operated the business from 1985 until 2011 when he passed away. Novak was able to continue operating the inn under a “nonconforming” clause in city code. But there’s a hitch: It must continue operating. If it’s not open for business for a period of 12 consecutive months, it falls out of the “nonconforming” category.
At the time of Novak’s death, ownership of the inn transferred to his sister, who lives out of state. Due to legal issues, she wasn’t able to immediately run the inn or sell the property. It’s currently listed at $543,000.
During the Oct. 14 Homer City Council meeting, council member Bryan Zak brought forward a resolution that would restore the inn’s grandfather rights. But in a memo from City Attorney Thomas Klinkner to the council, he wrote the city shouldn’t go that route. Zak wanted the discussion anyway.
“We’re probably going to vote this down tonight, but thought that it would be good at least to have some discussion as to, perhaps, how to go forward. Because there’s other similar issues that we’re probably going to see from the Homer Voice for Business or other interested organizations within the community,” he said.
Council Member Beau Burgess agreed with Zak, but he said he wants to see some reworking of the code that would affect businesses equally.
“I think we run a lot of legal risks from perhaps playing favorites or micro-managing to a certain extent. So I think the best approach here would be to see if we could find a more universal solution," he said.
Zak said during the council’s committee of the whole meeting that he’d also be interested in going back and examining the city’s code or working with the Planning Commission to discuss a change in zoning. Council Member David Lewis said that’s something he’d like to know more about. But, again, it must be a general approach.
“Because if we did something specifically for the Bay View Inn then we could get nailed with spot-zoning possibly. Doing something general, since this was annexed in, and for all businesses that were annexed in because at one point they were legal until they were annexed in, I would be interested in. Don’t know if I’d be for or against it, but it would be something to look at,” he said.
Zak also mentioned he’d like to consider changing the timing for “nonconforming” properties. Instead of the current 12 months in city code, perhaps that time frame could be replaced with 24 or 36 months.