Scott Kramer has won a weeklong reprieve in his fight to preserve his Dearing Mansion as a bed-and-breakfast.
The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday postponed until June 27 a decision that determines whether he can continue to operate the 1885 home he lovingly restored more than a decade ago.
The city’s Planning Commission had revoked his conditional-use permit after he hosted a New Year’s Eve party there. He was appealing that decision with the City Council on Wednesday night.
The commission found he had advertised the party as a commercial venture. Kramer’s permit forbids him from hosting parties or events for hire at the six-bedroom, 10,000 square-foot home. Kramer admits he charged admission for the murder mystery-themed party but said it was only to recover his costs.
City officials had previously found that Kramer had improperly hosted events such as weddings at the house. The New Year’s Eve party had been promoted on social media, which Kramer said was done without his knowledge or consent.
City officials said it was the third time he’s violated conditions prohibiting special events at the majestic brick home at 241 George St. W.
Ferdinand Peters, an attorney representing Kramer, told the council it needed to determine whether Kramer, who lives in the mansion, is allowed to hold private parties there as any other homeowner, or is prohibited from doing so because he also runs it as a business.
Kramer has said he had never intended to get into the B&B business. He and his wife bought the house more than a decade ago with the idea of restoring it and living in it for the rest of their lives. But after a divorce Kramer needed to find a way to afford the house, which cost $450,000 to buy and another $275,000 to restore.
Operating it as a bed-and-breakfast was a way to pay its not-insignificant bills, he said, but he needed a conditional-use permit to do that in a residential neighborhood. He was granted a permit in October 2014.
But in May 2015, a neighbor complained that Kramer was hosting parties and renting and advertising the home’s six bedrooms. His permit allowed him to rent out only four rooms and did not allow him to host events.
In summer 2016, city officials received another complaint that he was again hosting parties. In January 2017, the Planning Commission modified Kramer’s permit to allow six bedrooms to be used, but specified that no weddings, retreats, corporate gatherings or parties could take place.