New page: Your DPD Letter

14 Oct

By popular demand, we are launching a page devoted to ideas and language you can adapt for your comment letters to DPD, deadline: Oct. 27th. *Scroll down for information about VPC’s back patio.*

First, however, the neighbors recommend that you read about the core issue up for public comment:

Should VPC be allowed to change their current land use from operating a ‘grocery’ as the single exemption in a residential neighborhood to operating a restaurant, also as the sole exemption in a residential area.

Galer blocked on school mornings

In the close-to-four years since VPC has opened, they have more than doubled the impacts of any previous business in 1501 17th Ave. E. Should anyone wish to gauge impact, compare any time of any day of the week with the comparable time on any Monday, when VPC is closed.

The DPD wants to know if you have experienced negative impacts related to:

  • traffic (there is considerably more of it, leading to unsafe parking and illegal u-turns)
  • delivery parking (there is no place for delivery trucks to park without blocking a street, alley, or sightline)
  • noise (early morning set-up; closing clean-up,; garbage and recycling, city service as well as VPC’s; customers from wine dinners and Sunday Suppers pouring onto the street up to as late as 11:30pm)
  • Cooking odors (meats, garlic, pizza, baked goods; what if you are diabetic, or on a diet?)
  • housing values
  • Garbage and scavenders do not influence DPD’s decision. The city maintains that VPC should be able to address those issue. That they have not and may never does not matter to the City. Those issues should (and are, by Volunteer Park Neighbors) be addressed with departments of transportation, police, etc.

Be as specific as you can.

  • Rather than, “Back in the day, we could (insert issue) and now, because of VPC (insert difference) ” use specific instances: dates, months, seasons and/or years.
  • Rather than saying, “I’m worried about housing values” ask an agent or realtor for an assessment.
  • If you have a photo or video clip of what the street used to be like related to the issue you are describing, include it in your submission. If not, take a photo of VPC on any Monday, when it is closed.
  • It is particularly effective to include an image of the current situation related to your issue.
  • You are legally allowed to take photos as long as you stay on city property (street, sidewalk) or on private property with the permission of the owner, .
  • Although you are legally allowed to enter VPC, Volunteer Park Neighbors does not support this action. We have never done so and do not intend to. VPC gives us ample opportunity to document infringements without unduly disturbing their business.
  • People eating outside understand they risk being photographed in an illegal situation. If restaurant customers are uncomfortable, Volunteer Park Neighbors have long suggested that they eat inside the restaurant. Our goal has always been to keep VPC operations to what is reasonable to ask the neighborhood to support: first floor, inside the building.

Patio used illegally (8/5/10); half the number we can expect for outdoor dinners

In your letter, point to concerns you have regarding VPC’s stated intent to use their newly-built patio for lunch and dinner service, for wine dinners and Sunday suppers, for additional special events, and for out-door grilling of meats.

To be clear: VPC’s current proposal relates only to creating a legal situation for their currently illegal use of the grocery space on the first floor.

  • They wish to change their current zoning to reflect that which they have operated as from the day they opened: a restaurant.
  • In their submission to the DPD, the language regarding the back patio is at the very least, intellectually dishonest.
  • To date. VPC has illegally: remodeled to include a commercial kitchen, operated as a restaurant when zoned as grocery and leased as cafe; expanded menu offerings; expanded use of sidewalk seating; and now, opened a back patio.
  • Their words and actions show clearly that they have no intention to stay off the back patio.
  • Every single expansion of their operation has been taken without permitting, without consultation with the neighbors regarding possible impacts, without pro-actively offering offsets, and without willingness to address anything until neighbors brought down the hammer.

If history teaches us anything, we can count on the following:

  • Once VPC legalizes their first floor as a restaurant, they will serve out back without permitting. In fact, they already have.
  • They will ignore neighbors’ complaints.
  • The back patio could conceivably double VPC’s current impact (which, in itself, is double the impact of any previous business).
  • Many customers will have no problem with the impact on our neighborhood. Approximately 40% drive (and park) here from other parts of the city.
  • Customers will come to expect back patio service. Many in the neighborhood will accept it.

In the words of one concerned neighbor, “We could be talking about a high-end Bennigan’s.”

Please submit your letter to DPD by Oct. 27th.

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