Chandler residents against mansion converting to event facility

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CHANDLER, Ariz. -- A mansion on 10 acres of land may be converted to a special events facility, bed and breakfast and bistro. But not if surrounding residents have a say.

The mansion on Kyrene Road that's also called Chateau de Vie or House of Life has been the center of controversy the last couple of years.

It's been through foreclosure, items were auctioned off, the property fell into disrepair.

So neighbors were thrilled when Nick and Shelly Goodman bought the property in June 2010 for $3.6 million. But the plan was never to live there.

"We knew from the beginning this home was not meant to be lived in and definitely not meant to be lived in by our family," said Nick Goodman, who has lived in Chandler most of his life.

The Goodmans envisioned weddings and events on the sprawling property, a bed and breakfast taking up space in the mansion's eight bedrooms, and a bistro -- open for breakfast and lunch.

But many neighbors disapprove of the plan, which went before the city's Planning and Zoning Committee on Wednesday night.

"It's going to bring our property values down -- it's just going to happen by default," said Paula Weber, who lives behind the mansion.

And although a large green belt and a 7-foot wall separate the two properties, Weber is concerned about noise, traffic and Goodman's request that maximum capacity be set at 770 people.

"Seven hundred and seventy people in my backyard, drinking and potentially pulling out onto Kyrene cannot happen in this community -- absolutely cannot happen," Weber said.

Mary Axelson is also concerned about young drivers who live in the area, especially on event days.

"Traffic is my deepest concern because I have a 16-year-old son, I just want it to remain residential," Axelson said.

But Goodman says he's trying to work with his surrounding neighbors to make sure everyone is satisfied.

"Our core desire is to be good neighbors today and into the future," he said. "All of the planning of this property has been with the neighbors' concerns and interests in mind."

Goodman says the noise level wouldn't be disruptive. Loud music would be played inside of the mansion.

If the permit is approved, 220 parking spots would be created on his property.

And as far as inebriated guests leaving after a wedding or fundraiser, Goodman said a valet service would be on property at all large events to prevent that problem.

Improvements and additions would cost a million dollars or more.

"We're not professional developers," he said. "We've never developed a property before. This is part of a dream."

And if the dream doesn't become reality, the couple would have to put the mansion back on the market.

After a heated public meeting Wednesday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted not to issue the mansion's owners a special permit because of some of the neighbors' concerns. The City Council will have the final say when it meets Feb 9.