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VPC ordered to submit parking study, site plans by March 15

15 Feb
Today, The Department of Planning & Development (DPD) gave VPC a deadline of March 15 for the site plans it requested in early Dec., and for the parking study requested in mid-November. DPD doesn’t set such deadlines unless an applicant is delaying the process. 

DPD determined that both elements were insufficient in the Condiitonal Use Application VPC filed in September.

  • Documentation such as traffic counts and photos demonstrate impact or lack of impact.
  • Our photos (below) document some of the impacts neighbors are asked to bear as a result of VPC’s current restaurant.
  • You can view additional documentation here and here.

17th Ave E on 10/9/10 (VPC open). Gray roof on right is VPC.


  • In May of 2010, the DPD found VPC in violation of their land-use, which allows a ‘grocery.’ Since 2007, VPC has been illegally operating a restaurant.
  • In Sept., after missing two deadlines, VPC filed a Administrative Conditional Use Application, requesting a land-use change. The document requires VPC to demonstrate that their proposed use (‘restaurant’) will cause no more impact to the neighborhood than the current use (‘grocery’).
  • Same vantage on 10/4/10 (VPC closed). Gray roof on right is VPC

    Currently, VPC illegally operates the restaurant they are proposing in their CUA. This complicates matters.

  • DPD has allowed VPC to continue to operate as-is until the land-use is resolved.
  • DPD has since asked VPC for the two corrections (described above) to their CUA.

DPD asks VPC for additional corrections: floor plans, etc.

15 Dec

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is requiring Volunteer Park Café to submit additional corrections to their Administrative Conditional Use application. The DPD seeks information that VPC neglected to provide in the original filing by VPC, requesting a  change in the land-use of the space they rent from ‘grocery’ to ‘an eating and drinking establishment.’

UPDATE 3/23/11: DPD issued a second corrections notice for upstairs floor plans.

The “Corrections Required” notice, issued Dec. 15th, states:

Please provide existing and proposed floor plans for ALL floors of the structure and please label all rooms and existing and proposed uses. “Existing” uses are uses that have been established by permit from our Department.

In addition, the Corrections Notice informed VPC that they could not use this ACU process to change the use of the second floor from its current, conforming use {‘residential’).

Please keep in mind that the Administrative Conditional Use application is to convert one nonconforming use to another nonconforming use. Any portion of the structure which has only ever been permitted as residential, cannot be converted to a nonconforming use.

In 1905, the second floor of 1501 17th Ave. E. was designated as a single-family dwelling; ‘residential.’ (The first floor of 1501 has the non-conforming use ‘grocery.) At some point, the upstairs split into two apartments, both also ‘residential.’

At a later point—perhaps as recently as early 2010—Volunteer Park Cafe rented the smaller of the two upstairs apartments to use as an office. The restaurant continues to operate the upstairs office, despite the DPD’s Dec. 15th  reminder that their current use of the space is illegal.

In its application, VPC suggests that their office, 265 sq ft on the 2nd floor, is legally permitted for retail use. Here is the text from the applicant’s Page 1, Question 2:

The proposed change of use is within in an existing two-story, wood frame structure with an unfinished basement. Specifically, the existing use of “retail sales and service, multipurpose” is made up of 1,690 sq. ft. on two floors. The main floor has 1425 sq. ft. and the 2nd floor has 265 sq. ft. The associated basement is used for storage for the existing use. The proposal is to change the existing 1,690 sq. ft. plus basement “retail sales and service, multipurpose” use to “restaurant.”

Clearly, DPD disagrees; as does Volunteer Park Neighbors. Click here to read our our critique of the technical issues in VPC’s application. You can read less technically oriented comments here.

The final element of the Correction Notice asked VPC to: “Please provide dimensions for all structures on the lot and their distances from all property lines.”

DPD asks VPC for study of parking situation

27 Nov

The Department of Planning and Development has requested that Volunteer Park Cafe provide a study that will compare the neighborhood parking impact of the previous legal use (a grocery store) to that of the restaurant.

UPDATE: Due to lack of compliance by VPC, on Feb. 15th, 2011, the DPD gave VPC a firm deadline of March 15th by which to submit the parking study.

The  original request, dated Nov. 17*, 2010, covers all on-street parking within 800 feet of VPC, and states:

“The parking counts should be made during the expected peak time for the restaurant, and counts should be collected on Monday, when the restaurant is closed, and at the same time on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, when the restaurant is open. Additionally, parking counts should be made during the expected peak time on either Saturday or Sunday.

“Please also provide an estimate of the peak on-street parking demand that likely was generated by the prior retail use on the site, and indicate the likely times and duration of this peak demand.”

No due date has been set for the study. In its original application to DPD, VPC doesn’t discuss differences between the parking demand  for a small grocery (the only current legal use for VPC’s space) and the destination restaurant VPC has become. VPC contended that the majority of its clients arrive via foot, bike or bus, but didn’t explain how it arrived at this estimate.

We believe this action demonstrates that DPD values public comments that pointed out the variety of traffic and parking issues VPC has caused. The obvious downside is that this request delays decision-making at DPD.

*The request appeared on DPD’s website on Nov. 27th, but was dated Nov. 17th.

Updated March 28th, 2011.

VPC declines to sign compromise agreement.

20 Sep

Today, neighbors received a response from VPC. While stating that they were committed to establishing and maintaining a good neighbor plan, that after discussion with the property’s owner, found it was not in the cafe’s nor the owners best interest to sign (what we feel is a) reasonable proposal.

The neighbors are very disappointed. Neighbors had hoped VPC would be willing to rebuild the trust they lost during the months they defamed their next-door neighbor and ignored concerns of others.

We hoped to be able to support VPC’s request to the City to change their zoning to allow a restaurant operation. Now, we cannot.

Good Neighbor Plan: Neighbors’ proposal to VPC

11 Sep

In preparation for the meeting scheduled for Sunday, the 12th, Volunteer Park Neighbors contacted VPC owners with the following information:

Volunteer Park Neighbors would like to support the operation of a small restaurant in the building and have given thought to what constitutes a good neighbor plan.

Families known to be concerned agree to a binding commitment to support VPC’s request for change of land use  if VPC owners as well as the owner of the building also agree to a binding commitment to the following:

1.  Upgrade and maintain the building and restaurant operation in compliance with all non-discretionary state and local regulations including for example fire/safety codes, building codes, public health and liquor regulations, etc.

2.  Use best available methods to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood in areas of garbage disposal, rodent control, and odor control.

3. Keep all customer eating and drinking and food preparation (cooking. barbecuing or similar activities) inside the building and maintain hours of operation as they have been this last summer.

4.  Assure an operation that curtails noise to be no greater than that which would be occasioned by a small grocery store or a single family residence.

5.  Insofar as possible, assure that patrons and employees respect parking regulations and assure that delivery vehicles follow an agreed to parking\unloading mitigation plan.

6.  Limit all eating and drinking establishment operations, including office uses, to the ground level.

VPC asks neighbors for meeting, wishes to hear complaints.

2 Sep

Today, neighbors received an e-mail from cafe owners, asking for a meeting at which they could hear the neighbors concerns. The cafe suggested the date of Sept. 12.

Results of meeting with neighbor.

19 Jul

Here are the agreements resulting from yesterday’s meeting between VPC owners and a neighbor.

**UPDATED SEPT. 1ST: VPC owners have still not contacted neighbors to set up a meeting.

  • VPC agreed to contact a larger group of concerned neighbors to set up a meeting, the goal being to come up with solutions.
  • While waiting for contact from VPC, neighbors would come up with reasonable mitigation tactics for the cafe to consider.
  • Tone should be one of positivity and looking forward.
  • Neighbor suggested that any communications with customers echo this sentiment.

Goal for the larger meeting:

Create with neighbors an agreed-upon set of mitigations around critical issues that would allow for neighbors’ endorsement of the land use change.