B & B proposal heads to planners

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

FALMOUTH — Plans to turn a mansion on Woodville Road into a bed and breakfast will be heading to the Planning Board.

The Board of Zoning Appeals granted conditional use approval Nov. 24 to Marc Christenen’s application to turn his home – known as the Mirabelle mansion on 200 Woodville Road – into a bed and breakfast. The vote was 4-1, with board member Stan Given in opposition.

However, a bed and breakfast was not the full vision Christensen, a former neurosurgeon, had in mind for his property which he bought it close to two years ago.

He wanted to turn it into what one report called a “gourmet getaway for well-heeled urbanites.”

On Oct. 28, the BZA denied Christensen’s application to allow the mansion to be a venue for cooking classes, as the use is too large for a home business. The board informed Christensen he could appeal the 3-2 decision to the code enforcement officer.

Code Enforcement Officer Justin Brown said he had not heard anything further from the applicants about conducting cooking classes in the mansion.

“There are no applications that would lead me to believe they will go forward with that anytime soon,” Brown said recently.

Brown said the Planning Board will have to grant site plan approval before the mansion can be converted into a bed and breakfast.

Amanda Howland, the marketing director for Mirabelle, on Dec. 8 said she and Christensen were very pleased with the BZA’s recent decision. She said they expect to go before the Planning Board in January, but have not discussed when the bed and breakfast would open for business if Planning Board approval is received.

“We’re still trying to decide what the best course of action would be,” she said. ” … We’re still considering the possibilities.”

Howland said room rates have not yet been broached because they are “going one step at a time.”

“We will look at some comparable (locations),” Howland said. “That step is a little further down the line.”

Howland said she and Christensen are still considering the possibility of appealing the BZA’s decision to ban cooking classes. She said they want to go through the Planning Board process for the bed and breakfast first.

“We’re definitely reserving the right to appeal that, and I think we have pretty good grounds for appeal,” she said.

The BZA’s decision on cooking classes was not the first challenge Christensen and Howland faced in getting Mirabelle operational.  In September, the planning board originally ruled that the 12,000-square-foot estate, built in the early 1990s as a home for the vice president of Shaw’s supermarkets, did not have the necessary permits to operate as an events venue.

Christensen told the BZA on Nov. 24 that the home has seven bedrooms, only five of which will be offered to renters. He said the mansion will follow the town’s guidelines for bed and breakfasts, meaning guests will not stay longer than seven consecutive nights, the only meal provided will be breakfast, pets will not be allowed and cooking facilities will not be made available to guests.

Christensen said there is more than adequate parking for those who stay at Mirabelle. He said he has a six-bay garage, and roughly 4,500 square feet of additional outdoor parking.

He told the board the home was already inspected and approved by the state for use as a bed and breakfast.

Brown said Christensen has the right to appear before the BZA again regarding the cooking classes, should he choose to appeal.

“I think this house originally was built with something else in mind other than a single-family home,” Christensen told the BZA on Nov. 24.

Howland said the vision for the property is a “very serene, beautiful, oasis” for people to come and “enjoy the area.” She said the setting will be very relaxed and low key.

“That’s the scale we’re going for,” she said.

From the outset, the applicants developing Mirabelle have wanted to turn the mansion into a larger events venue and include cooking classes, longer vacations and weddings. However, the wedding idea was scrapped early on. The company’s website, which until September said the mansion could be a wedding venue, now only reads “coming soon.”

The company’s Facebook page has not been active since Sept. 12. Both the website and Facebook page provide contact information.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Plans to turn the Mirabelle mansion on 200 Woodville Road into a bed and breakfast location will head to the Planning Board.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.