A second request by a Waco resident to operate the Barndominium as a vacation rental was denied Tuesday by Lacy Lakeview City Council, with members citing the applicant’s disregard for ordinances.
Owner Kristi Bass said after the meeting the fight is not over.
When she bought the property, these ordinances did not exist, Bass said.
“You can’t change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. . . . I find it a misuse of fiduciary and judicial responsibility,” Bass said. “None of these issues were even brought to the council until a resident was on the council and made issue of it.”
A neighbor recently resigned from the council. Bass said she has “plenty of options” moving forward, but did not elaborate.
“Unfortunately, when I’m called to a fight, I’ll show up. I didn’t want to go this direction. I tried to give an olive branch,” she said.”
Council members expressed concern about Bass’ “total disregard” for city ordinances and said she has continued to operate the Barndominium as a vacation rental despite being told not to in August. Her first application for a permit, made under a different ordinance, also was denied.
Mayor Calvin Hodde cast the sole vote to approve her new application.
Other bed and breakfasts received permits to continue operations in recent months. Though those businesses operated for years without permits, council members said at the time they approved them because the owners reside on the property.
Council member Patrick Bell said the requested permit is for an exception to the rule, and in this case, the rule is zoning. The area surrounding the Barndominium is zoned residential.
“The citizens have come forward and made it quite clear they are against it and have not wavered from that. I feel like we need to stick with the standard,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Cogliati said she was initially OK with the idea of the Barndominium operating as a vacation rental.
“I know for a fact there were neighbors who had no clue that she was still operating,” Cogliati said. “I think it’s funny that a lot of the people on that street didn’t realize she was continuously operating.”
Though neighbors didn’t notice, it changed Cogliati’s mind, she said.
Hodde said after the meeting that neighbors for other bed and breakfasts reported enjoying the visitors, and the Barndominium could have had that.
“I just kind of felt like it’s a shame we couldn’t find a common ground here,” he said. “I think given a chance the Barndominium could be a really good thing. I think once everybody kind of settled down a little and it was given a chance, it would have been fine and people might meet some interesting folks.”
Bass purchased the property from Todd and Lexia Meek, after the site was made popular by the HGTV program “Fixer Upper” when Chip and Joanna Gaines renovated the barn.
The city also stood to make $7,400 per year in taxes if the house were rented out two nights per week, Bass wrote in her application.
Many residents who live near the property spoke before the vote to ask that the council deny the permit. Several previously had spoken to the council to oppose the Barndominium.
Resident Lester Beaird said the council should either deny the request or wait until April, when Bass goes to trial for the two Class C misdemeanor citations that allege she operated the location as business without a permit.
Theresa Plsek, who shares a small lake with the Barndominium, said if the council approved the permit it would open a can of worms, and others in the neighborhood might want to do something similar on their property.