While the prominent intersection of 23rd Street and Noland Road has had its struggles in recent years, it will likely get a bit brighter in late 2012.

While the prominent intersection of 23rd Street and Noland Road has had its struggles in recent years, it will likely get a bit brighter in late 2012.


Plans to make the Napoleon B. Stone mansion at 1114 S. Noland Road, just north of 23rd Street, a bed-and-breakfast inched a bit closer Tuesday night when the Independence Planning Commission approved a special use permit for the property.


As Silver Heart Inn, the 3,600-square-foot home will offer four guest rooms on the second floor, as well as a fifth guest room in the free-standing guest cottage. The project’s applicant, Melanie Johnson, will live on the house’s first floor with her husband.


The commission’s recommendation now goes to the City Council, which has the final vote. City staff also had recommended approval for the special use permit with the following three conditions: The house must be used for short-term stays (not longer than 30 consecutive days); The freestanding cottage may be used as part of the bed-and-breakfast stays as long as the main property is used as a B&B; and renovations at the house must be completed prior to the issuing of a business license.


Independence resident and architect Jim Gamble spoke briefly at the public hearing, as his family lived at 1114 S. Noland Road for nearly 70 years.


Keeping the historic integrity of the house in place, Johnson said, is important for the couple as they are completing some minor renovations to flooring and carpeting.


“We are making no structural changes to the house, and it is to remain as authentic as possible in our care,” Johnson said. “We’re not moving walls or tearing down walls or doing anything like that. ... Really, the house is coming full circle. It’s a great opportunity to have a living history, and we’d like to share that with people.”


The Johnsons live in Independence now, and Melanie said she’s been impressed with the city in the short time she has been in town. She shops frequently on the Square and said she’ll encourage her bed-and-breakfast guests to do the same.


“I’ve really fallen in love with this little gem called Independence,” Johnson said. “For our city to be as successful as it can be, we have to support each others’ businesses.”


The Johnsons are aiming to open Silver Heart Inn sometime this fall, and Melanie said they’ll keep the well-known Christmas tree on the small portico over the front door year after year.


Because of Health Department requirements, meals won’t be served for those staying in the separate cottage, but that structure does include a full-sized kitchen, Johnson said. Otherwise, the couple would need to invest in a commercial kitchen that would involve significant structural changes to the original house, she said.


“The fact that they’re going to be able to put it to a community use, I think, is what is most exciting about it,” said Audrey Elder, a historic real estate agent who spoke in favor of the case. “It’s been a place of social gathering since it was built in 1856. ... This is going to give a brand-new light to Noland Road.”


While no one spoke against the case, commission members Karen DeLuccie and Jerry Kacheroski voiced their concerns over City Code-mandated modifications needed for a sprinkler system inside the house, saying they’ll tamper with the home’s historic preservation.


Regardless, DeLuccie said, she is excited about the project.


“I’ve loved that house for years and years,” she said. “I am very much in favor of this project.”