Public Meeting Redux

25 Apr

This evening, an open public meeting took place at Stevens Elementary School to discuss Volunteer Park Café’s application to change the land-use of the space it rents (the first floor and one of the second floor residential units of 1501 17th Ave. E) from ‘grocery’ (and in the case of the upstairs, ‘residential’) to ‘restaurant.’

The meeting was well attended and remarkably civil. We thank everyone who attended for sharing their views concisely and with respect. We hope neighbors can continue the discussion in the same successful vein.

The meeting began with a brief recap of the situation by Scott Kemp, the planner from The Department of Planning & Development (DPD) assigned to this case. After Mr. Kemp spoke, representatives from VPC and VP Neighbors spoke, primarily reaffirming our commitment to working together and in conjunction with DPD. Mr. Kemp then opened the meeting for comments.

By and large, Mr. Kemp simply allowed residents to speak. Occasionally, he would step in to explain points of law or to clarify a question about the process required to change one non-conforming use to another.

A specific point addressed by Mr. Kemp seemed to clarify greatly the issue of the “agreement.” In effect here are two “agreements”:

  1. The private agreement currently in process between three entities: the building’s owner, the resident who filed the initial complaint with DPD, and VPC itself; and
  2. The public decision by DPD regarding the request for the change of nonconforming use.

Mr. Kempt clarified that the public decision is just that: a matter of public record, available to any resident who requests it. The private agreement is between the parties involved.

Without giving a date or time frame, Mr. Kemp stated that he would soon announce  the DPD’s decision regarding the land-use change.

We would like to acknowledge that we heard a number of residents register concern that they did not feel invited into VP Neighbors.

  • We invite any resident to contact us with suggestions as to how we can address your concerns.
  • Please contact individual members of VPN or through the contact information listed on this site.

In closing, we would like to reiterate our message from last night. While the currently permitted use of the building is as a grocery, Volunteer Park Neighbors has always stated the current best use can be as a restaurant with limits that make sense for our residential neighborhood.

Members of VPN remain committed to working with Volunteer Park Café towards an agreement that would allow VPN to support VPC’s restaurant permit application, while also protecting the character of our neighborhood now, and in the future.

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