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Published: Wednesday, 5/12/2004

Sylvania mulls tea rooms, bed-breakfasts


Sylvania City Council is considering legislation to allow tea rooms and bed-and-breakfast establishments in some residential areas.

Members of the council's zoning and annexation committee determined such commercial activity should be confined to major streets and specific limitations should be put on the businesses, including that they be occupied by the business owner.

The committee directed Jim Moan, law director, to prepare legislation for a first reading at the council meeting Monday.

Doug Haynam, chairman of the committee, said changes may be made and that a public hearing will be scheduled before council considers it again.

The issue came to council's attention in a letter from Chris and Roger Kruse and Elizabeth and Baldemar Velasquez. They have spent years on rehabilitating a house in the 8200 block of Erie Street. They asked council to consider finding a way to allow for a tea room at that location.

Mr. Haynam said council's attention has to first be directed to establishing legislation to permit such businesses. If council does pass the ordinances, it will be up to the plan panel and council to approve specific applications.

He said approval would be in the form of a special-use permit, which can impose specific limits on operation of a commercial enterprise is operated. It also keeps the existing zoning in place so that once the special use is no longer applicable, the original zoning is in effect.

Committee members agreed tea rooms should be limited in the hours they are allowed to be open, such as 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Conditions for a bed-and-breakfast will likely include limiting guests' stays to no more than one week, to preclude it from being utilized as a rooming house.

Other specific recommendations will be worked into the legislation, but Mr. Haynam said there should be sufficient latitude for the planning commission to determine appropriate rules for individual applications.

Barbara Sears, a member of the committee, said some latitude is necessary because different operations may be in areas of the city with different characteristics.

One thing to guard against is overregulation that could "lead to paved driveways and parking lots, lined with handicapped parking signs. These will still be residential neighborhoods,'' and their character should be maintained, she said. She also said she favored keeping a provision requiring that the business be owner-occupied.

Ms. Sears recalled that some years ago when a bed-and-breakfast zoning category was considered, some contractors had the idea of refurbishing a building and then hiring a staff.

She said that went against the feeling supposed to be involved in the informal, family-run and family-oriented businesses.

Another reason for requiring owner-occupancy is so neighborhs have someone to go to if there are problems or complaints about the business.

Contact Mike Jones at:


or 419-724-6096.

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