|Outdoor cafe rejected|
|Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 31 May 2013 09:35|
PERRYSBURG - Controversial outdoor seating at a local restaurant got a red light from the Planning Commission Thursday night in response to the concerns of irked neighbors.
By a vote of 6-1, the 5th Street Pub, 109 W. Fifth St., was denied a special approval use to fully utilize an existing patio as an outdoor cafe. The business, open for three months, is owned by Geoff and Melissa Kies, and currently only makes partial use of the patio, with city approval.
"From a restaurant owner standpoint, in today's times, restaurants are about pennies and you have to scratch every single one of them, and I need every chance I can get to make some money," said Geoff Kies, a Perrysburg resident since 1979, prior to the vote, adding later, "I understand the complaints, I really do."
"I'd love to find a common ground for everybody."
The issue has raised the hackles of neighbors residing in the 100 block of Fifth Street - a public report on the matter documented complaints about parking issues, as well as noise and vulgar language coming from the patio.
More than 40 residents and media turned out for the meeting.
One resident, Josh Alkire, videotaped the business and submitted the footage to the city, some of which was presented at the meeting.
The video clips, taken May 18 and May 25, showed the difference in noise levels between when the establishment is open, and when it is closed, and demonstrated that the noise levels rise as time goes on, past 12 a.m.
"That was taken from my son's bedroom," said Alkire. "He's 9 years old."
"What you're hearing there is probably people going outside to have a cigarette," said Kies, noting that they do not seat past 11 p.m. on weekends.
"I have a pretty sedate crowd, as a rule," he said, a comment which drew laughter and several comments from the audience.
"Are you saying you are not enjoying your property as now?" asked Mayor Nelson Evans of Alkire.
"Yes," he said, along with his wife, Tanya.
"Drunk smokers are a lot louder than table diners," said Alkire,
"If you're out there shouting, my 5-year-old can't sleep," he added later.
"We have had some retaliation episodes," Alkire said, noting that he called the police one night, and later individuals drove up and down the alleyway, honking their horns.
"Could be coincidence. Just saying."
Kies said he would be willing to plant juniper trees to help block some of the noise, and limit the time and number of people on the patio. Currently 49 people may occupy the patio; he would cut it to 24. The size of the patio would also be cut by a third.
"That's not going to work," said Tanya Alkire. "I'm sorry."
Resident Jim Pfleger praised the food at 5th Street Pub, but said Kies is "the new kid on the block."
"When you're the new kid on the block you play by the rules in effect."
"I hope the restaurant does not go away," he said during an impassioned address to the commission. "I hope the restaurant considers closing in the patio, if that is within the realm of law."
Resident Jim Kuck presented a petition to the commission, signed by, he said, most of the neighborhood residents.
"There are some intoxicated people outside that place when it closes," he said. He noted that when the site was under different ownership, "it was an older crowd."
"When my neighbor has to go across the street because she's afraid of the people in front of this place, that goes to the quality of life."
"You need us for your long-term success, for good public relations," said resident Maria Jones to Kies.
"If you continue to be a bad citizen business, we will continue to fight you."
Kies' landlord, Jim Delph, said "(Kies) knows what he's doing" in the restaurant business.
"I'm here tonight to work with Geoff and the neighbors," he continued, saying "there's got to be a solution," which could include enclosing the patio.
"I understand where these folks are coming from."
"I'm not looking to bring in some element that's going to ruin all your lives," Kies said late in the meeting.
"I'm just saying give me 'til the end of summer to get (the enclosing of the patio) done."
He expressed a fear that "I'm going to get railroaded out of here. Nobody's fighting in my parking lot."
"We'll get through this," said Commission President Greg Bade, noting his consternation at issues that cause conflict in the community.
"We need to move forward."
Mayor Nelson Evans, to applause, moved that the special approval use not be approved.
Thomas Forquer was the only vote against the motion.
"After listening to the residents tonight and hearing their concerns, that's the reason I made the motion that I did," said Evans after the vote.
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