Neighbors First for Bywater General Meeting – June 5, 2019

Julie introduced Nick Kendall, the Zoning Administrator from Safety and Permits. Mr. Kendall has been with Safety and Permits for a few months, and was with the City Planning Commission for over four years before this. As new businesses are being planned around the neighborhood concerns have been raised about outdoor seating rules for bars and restaurants abutting residential properties. There are two types of commercial zoning that allow restaurants in Bywater. HMC-1 zoning is generally along commercial corridors and HMC-2 properties are usually scattered within neighborhoods, e.g. corner stores. There are two types of restaurants permitted in such districts: standard restaurants and specialty restaurants. In Standard Restaurants customers are seated and food is brought to their table. Alcohol is permitted by right. Specialty restraints are more like coffee shops, where customers order receive service at the counter. They do not necessarily provide a full meal, and alcohol is not permitted without a conditional use. Fast food or carryout restaurants are not permitted in HMC-1 or HMC-2 districts. If more than 50% of sales are from alcohol then the business is considered a bar. 

In the zoning ordinance (Article 21.6w) outdoor seating is addressed. Many districts have a required setback of 10 to 20 feet for businesses that abut residential property, but Bywater does not, as properties here have typically been developed from property line to property line. Sidewalk dining requires a special permit. There are no specific standards requiring a certain percentage of seating to be indoors if there is outdoor seating. There are limits to the amount of square feet that can be used. Businesses under 3000 square feet do not have to provide parking. Commercial use over 3000 square feet requires a conditional use. Over 5000 square feet of impervious service requires storm water management. 

Allen Johnson told the group that the FMIA has been asking for improved regulations regarding outdoor seating in HMC-1, HMC-2, and HM-MU districts. They have met with other neighborhood groups and Councilmember Palmer. 

Julie then asked Andrew Sullivan, Councilmember Palmer’s Chief of Staff, to update the group regarding the HANO development, the implications of the zoning change, and the planned development process. 

Councilmember Palmer and her staff were certain that the zoning change would have been approved by other Councilmembers, which is why they chose to modify the request and initiate the planned development process. Community members that met with other council members were under the impression that they were sympathetic to our concerns, so it was a surprise to hear they would have voted in favor of the original zoning change request. A meeting will be planned soon to discuss the new process.

Mark Gonzales noted that the petition we gave City Council opposing the current ITEX/HANO plan had over 600 signatures, and it specifically stated support for affordable housing on the lot – a goal we share with Jane Place and GNOFHAC. Signees were opposed to the development for a number of legitimate reasons, such as design, scale, massing, traffic, impact on infrastructure, loss of green space, and a lack of storm water management studies. He added that requiring the lot to be used for affordable housing permanently would be preferable to the current arrangement.  

Julie then introduced David Grenadier and another gentleman to discuss their plans for a hotel they are planning for the lot at 3220 Chartres (next to the “Rusty Rainbow”). The lot is zoned HM-MU, and a hotel would be a conditional use, which they have applied for. A hotel was deemed a better use for the lot than the luxury condos they had previously planned. The ground floor would be commercial space with outdoor seating in front on Chartres St. They plan to ask the French Market Corporation to lease them space for seating along the side of the building as well. The rooftop would include an “infinity pool”, a bar, and lots of outdoor seating. The roof will get a lot of sun. The pool would be open to the public. The hotel would consist of 60 bedrooms grouped into 18 2 to 4 bedroom suites, more like apartments. They feel this is a good way to compete with STRs in the neighborhood. No parking will be provided on the lot. They are asking the French Market Corporation to lease 30 of the 84 parking spaces in the Crescent Park lot. Rick Prince pointed out that the French Market Corporation may not be able to offer anything permanently. Another neighbor voiced concerns about potential noise from the rooftop bar, congestion on Chartres St., and potential parking issues for near neighbors. Live entertainment is not planned as they do not believe it is permitted in HM-MU zoned lots. They said they will definitely do a sound study. They hope to use a neighboring lot for construction staging. 

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, secretary

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