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[whitespace] Neighbors resolve conflict with Maynard Mansion

Meeting over coffee cookies leads to permit approval

Willow Glen--Neighbors near Willow Glen's Maynard Mansion have set a positive example for how good communication can resolve differences and build relationships.

Residents on Brace Avenue and Iris Court north of Minnesota Avenue had filed an appeal with the city protesting the mansion's permit authorizing its use for retail purposes two weekends out of each month. But two weeks ago they met privately with the owners of the historic residence, 1151 Minnesota Ave., and, the following day, retracted their protest.

"The meeting was very positive," neighbor Abby Durán told The Resident. Durán filed the appeal. "It all turned out quite well. That's what good communication really does. I think it was a win-win situation."

The owner of the Maynard Mansion, John Andrews, and his son Steve Nyblom have lived in the house and used it for weekend custom furniture sales since the mid 1990s. But in March, city code enforcement officials found the building's use was violating its permit, which was for restaurant uses and dated back to its previous occupant, Lisa's Tea Treasures tea house. Nyblom told The Resident they then stopped holding the furniture sales and even considered selling the building.

Nyblom said that, when his father bought the house to live in and use for the occasional sales, they believed the building's permits allowed for those uses. Andrews applied for an amended permit later in March, and in early June the city's planning department recommended the permit, which included a provision allowing for parking at the nearby Live Oak Adult Day Care Center, 1147 Minnesota Ave., during retail sales.

But residents living behind the Maynard Mansion objected to the behavior of the building's residents, Durán said. The neighbors decided to use the permit amendment approval process as an opportunity to raise their concerns about loud parties at the mansion late into the night, he said. More than 20 of the neighbors signed a June 12 letter to planner Anastazia Aziz opposing the permit amendment, and Durán filed an appeal of the new permit on June 25, postponing its approval.

Durán said the mansion's residents had never returned his phone calls complaining about noise from their parties, particularly New Year's Eve festivities. But when the appeal was filed, neighbors received an invitation to the mansion for a small meeting about the problem, he said.

Nyblom said he invited the neighbors because he sensed they were "in the spirit of working it out." He said he was surprised by the neighbors' opposition because he had never heard of their complaints before and he hadn't realized that the noise from their parties could be heard behind the house.

"We felt very bad that it had bothered them," he said.

The June 28 meeting at the Maynard Mansion, over coffee and cookies, resulted in a letter from Nyblom to his neighbors apologizing for the offending parties and assuring them they would no longer last so long or be so loud. The letter also invited neighbors to contact Nyblom if they had any complaints.

"It is our utmost goal to be courteous and respectful to our neighbors and friends," the letter stated.

"I love this Willow Glen area and I'm willing to do my part," Nyblom told The Resident. "I'm willing to do what the next guy has to do."

Durán said the neighbors were so pleased with the outcome of the meeting that he sent a letter to Aziz retracting the appeal on June 29. The amended permit can now be approved and the mansion will again be able to hold its furniture sales.

The resolution, although initiated by city officials, was finally achieved through old fashioned neighborliness, Durán said, with results better than he ever imagined.

Nyblom agreed.

"It was kind of exciting," he said. "In fact, we made new friends. They're just wonderful people."
Kate Carter

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