A historic Albuquerque neighborhood is in the center of a fight over backyard events.
While one of the most popular bed and breakfast properties in Albuquerque wants permission to play host, at least one neighbor is fighting the zoning change to allow it.
The Downtown Historic Bed and Breakfast sits on the on the corner of High Street and Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. Part of the the Huning Highlands neighborhood, the home-business is in the East Downtown (EDo) part of Albuquerque.
Over the years, property owners Steve and Kara Grant have bought up the three side-by-side homes that make up the bed and breakfast business. Around 2010, the couple began hosting events like weddings, corporate retreats and other gatherings at the property.
“We have a unique venue to offer to couples,” said Kara Grant of part of the reason why the business began hosting events. “There’s no where else in Albuquerque you can find a historic Victorian-type setting to hold an event.”
The Grants recently filed a request for a zoning change for their three homes though, after they found out the home was not allowed to host gatherings.
While the city considers the requested zoning change, at least one neighbor is fighting it.
“The noise is very bothersome,” said Day Hockman, an attorney representing the homeowner who’s fighting the requested zoning change.
Hockman represents neighbor Larry Tucker, who lives in a property one street over. Hockman says Tucker has been bothered by noisy events in the past at the property.
“He feels bad being the, you know… the proverbial rain on the parade, but at the end of the day, you have to consider where he’s coming from,” said Hockman. “I mean, it’s a nuisance to him.”
The zoning change that the bed and breakfast is asking for could allow unlimited outdoor events in the backyard of the business property, which is only separated from Tucker’s home by two fences and a roughly 12-foot alleyway.
“The neighbors have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their home,” said Hockman of the opposition to the zoning change. “He’s continuing to fight this battle because it means a lot to him, he loves this house and he’s just looking for a fair assessment of his position.”
Meanwhile, the first panel to hear the argument OK’d the zoning change. The city of Albuquerque’s Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) approved the change in February.
Tucker’s attorney says he’s continuing the fight through an appeal to the EPC’s decision.
“I mean, what would you do if this was happening in your backyard?” said Hockman. “It’s very unfair and just to do it for the sake of economic development, we don’t feel that’s strong enough case.”
But the Grants argue their small venue matches neighborhood’s long term plans that have been outlined in the city’s comprehensive and sector development plans for the neighborhood.
“What we’re asking for stands in line with really what the city and even this Huning Highlands neighborhood has as their vision for the area,” said Kara Grant.
The couple also argues that they have broader support from the neighborhood.
“We have letters from…I want to say six or seven different neighbors that are immediately surrounding our property,” said Steve Grant of neighborhood support. “We love our neighbors, we want to be a good neighbor.”
The couple also argues that they don’t hold events often and try to monitor noise closely.
“We do try no later than 10 p.m. to shut it down,” said Kara Grant.
Both sides will argue their points at a hearing on April 6, 2018. Ultimately, Albuquerque City Council will vote as to whether or not they’ll approve the zoning change to allow events.