Chandler City Council members have turned down a zoning and use permit requested by the newest owner of one of Chandler’s most impressive private residences, a home once owned by prominent east Valley developer Conley Wolfswinkel.
Residents were strongly divided during the fully packed council meeting, held Feb. 23. Many voiced concerns over a proposal to allow the site to be used as a commercial events venue, ultimately to be known as Chateau de Vie.
Council members voted 6-to-1 to deny owners Nick and Shelly Goodman the requested 3-year use permit after about five hours of hearing opinions on both sides of the issue.
Proponents wore yellow shirts with the message “Save the Chateau,” while opponents had blue shirts reading “Not in Our Back Yard.”
Attorney Ralph Pew, who represented the Goodmans during the session, addressed what appeared to be one of residents’ major concerns: that loud music would be played during events held within boundaries of the 13,000-square-foot site.
Such concerns were unwarranted, Pew said.
“We are not operating outdoor concerts; we are not having amplified music outside. We’re not having the marching band come in,” he said.
“We intend for the only music from outside to be acoustical, and that is what we are going to do – we will have no percussion instruments outside…”
Opponents of granting the Goodmans the use permit said a six-plus-foot wall surrounding the mansion would not prevent neighboring residents from hearing music and noise from parties.
Those opponents were adamant.
“We would not, and will not, support a commercial use (of the property)…it is inconsistent with our property rights, with our right of quiet enjoyment of our existing neighborhood,” said nearby resident Cortland Silver, who has lived in Chandler for 17 years.
William Swirtz, another opponent of Chateau de Vie, said the permit would make neighbors “the noise police,” and voiced concerns over the volume of sound that would occur at times when alcohol might be served at events.
The proponents, however, insisted that they had their neighbors’ tranquility in mind when they developed their plans early on.
Shelly Goodman said one of her first thoughts was for the neighbors, and she would make significant changes, such as adding barriers for valet parking, eliminating light and taking steps to avoid noise pollution.
Some proponents said they felt that the venue could increase property values for neighbors and provide an outlet where visitors could enjoy a bed-and-breakfast type of location, in addition to a venue for weddings.
“Chandler needs a facility like this,” said Bill Kalaf, another west Chandler resident.
“It needs character like this – I want to be able to take my grandkids (there) and I want to be able to show them the brochure and have weddings there. My daughter got married at a place like this in Mesa, but there is no place around like this (in Chandler).”
With the use permit denied, the mansion’s future remains uncertain, as does the Goodmans’, who purchased the property for about $3.6 million in 2010.