Planning Commission OKs special exception to operate Magnolia Hall as 3-unit short-term rental

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Planning Commission granted a special exception to the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill, which owns the historic Magnolia Hall, 215 S. Pearl St., to operate a three unit or bedroom short-term rental in Natchez.

That’s not what the group, which is affiliated with the Natchez Garden Club, applied for, but they agreed to make a short-term rental work.

The group applied with the commission to operate a three-unit bed and breakfast at Magnolia Hall.

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However, when the application was presented to the planning commission, Commissioner Charles Harris immediately pointed out it does not meet the city’s bed and breakfast regulations.

Those regulations require that either the owner occupy the bed and breakfast facility, or a manager who is a resident of the facility live in it.

Jennifer Jones Smith, chairman of the Preservation Society, said members of the Natchez Garden Club and staff members are in Magnolia Hall and would be there in the daytime to take care of any problems.

“And we have chairmen who live very close buy,” Smith said.

Harris asked again would anyone live in Magnolia Hall while bed and breakfasts guest were there overnight.

Smith said they would not.

“That is not what the ordinance requires. Then this application does not meet the conditions of the ordinance,” Harris said.

Commission member Jonathan Smith asked City Planner Frankie Legaux if the Magnolia Hall request would be suitable for the city’s short-term rental property, rather than a bed and breakfast.

Legaux said it would qualify, and the commission could approve that request without the group filling out another application and without advertising it, as the policy requires.

Marsha McCullough made a motion to approve Magnolia Hall for a special exception to operate as a short-term rental, rather than a bed and breakfast. Commissioner Dan Hayes Clark seconded McCullough’s motion. Commissioners Deborah Martin, Jonathan Smith, Mildred Chatman, McCullough and Clark voted to approve the measure. Harris voted in opposition.

Planning commission chairperson Cheryl Rinehart recused herself from the vote and discussion because of her involvement with the Natchez Garden Club.

Commission members Emma Rose Jackson and Butch Johnson were absent at the meeting.

In other action at the brief meeting, the commission approved a request from Norma Reed Moore, 6 Beech St., to operate a 3-unit bed and breakfast in her home.

That application was approved unanimously.