Building permit pulled mid-project after complaint filed

The owners of Adams House Bed and Breakfast, serving customers for nearly two decades in the Hyde Park neighborhood, will ask Austin City Council on May 22 to reinstate a previously approved building permit that was pulled more than five months ago.

Adams House owners Liz Lock and Eric C. Hughes began construction in November atop the bed and breakfast's garage in an attempt to create new living quarters for the innkeepers. However, in January a neighbor filed a complaint contesting the commercial building permit as being out of compliance with the city's bed-and-breakfast standards. Consequently, renovations were halted mid-construction.

The couple met with Community Impact Newspaper in February but asked not to go on the record about the issue out of concern it would delay any city action to rectify the situation. However, what followed were a series of processing mistakes, review errors and city delays that Lock and Hughes said have cost them money and patience.

"The city said from the start that this is their error, so we had some confidence they would reinstate the building permit," Lock said. "City staff has been understanding and have tried to expedite the process to get us on agendas, but nobody seems to want to take responsibility."

Shortly having their permit pulled Jan. 10 three months into construction, Lock and Hughes began meeting with senior staff who said they would push through a city-initiated resolution to correct the matter. However, that request was rejected in February by the Planning Commission and later postponed in March, at which point the resolution reached the city's board of adjustments.

A city error prevented BOA from hearing the case in mid-April, pushing the hearing back to April 30. During that meeting, BOA members requested the resolution go back to the Planning Commission. On May 13, Planning Commission members recommended approval for the request to have the building permit reinstated—all while apologizing to Adams House owners, the couple said—meaning either BOA or City Council could offer final approval. However, a May 14 BOA special meeting did not have a quorum, meaning the May 22 council meeting is the soonest the Adams House resolution can be approved.

"[The canceled BOA special meeting] was purely political," Hughes said. "We're not trying to overdevelop the neighborhood. When this project is done, it will look like the rest of the house."

Dozens of Hyde Park residents and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association have supported Lock and Hughes throughout the process, according to city documents.

Austin City Council will hear the request at approximately 2 p.m. May 22. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St.