Homeowners address residential zone tourism
By Stephanie Johns
An agenda item pertaining to tourism in residential zones prompted locals to speak out at the Madison City Council meeting on Monday.
During a November meeting of the council, Councilman Michael Naples asked why the city had not stopped a homeowner from providing tours of their historic residence. Kathy Whiteside, owner of Thurleston house on Dixie Avenue, was discussed during that meeting.
Naples said the current ordinance just covers tour management. He added that many people do not want tourism in residential districts.
“This ordinance has to be expanded,” he said. He added that tourism is the number one industry in this town, but ordinances must be respected. “If you leave it the way it is, you’re not addressing the problem.”
Whiteside was present at Monday night’s meeting. She said she has lived in Madison and given tours here for 30 years.
“I didn’t want a business,” she said, adding that her husband’s work building in Florida “just stopped.”
She decided to start the business so that she could maintain her property.
Whiteside said when she received her business license, she asked for no favors but was granted the license on precedence. She noted that Hattie Mina Hicky had given tours.
“We need more people like me,” she said. Some in the audience laughed and clapped at this. “All of us working together is what our town needs.”
She addressed Naples at one point and accused him of bullying.
“You could’ve come to me and said I have a problem with your license,” she said. “It hurt me terribly and it hurt me personally.”
Naples responded that his purview prevented him from going to her directly. Instead, he followed protocol and took this concern to the city manager.
“So we now have this conflict,” he said. “I hope to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction.”
City attorney Joe Reitman said he would like to see what staff could come up with to make a private tour more acceptable.
City Planner Monica Callahan shared details about Madison’s regulations regarding tourism. She said staff will remove the conflict in the definitions and rewrite the ordinance to reflect current operations.
Council will consider the rewritten ordinance at their January meeting.
Printed in the December 13, 2012 edition