The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has provided to CHS a list of the seven draft restrictions it is considering for a conditional use approval that will allow the Volunteer Park Cafe to continue operating in its current 17th Ave E location.
CHS reported on the public meeting held Monday night at Stevens Elementary where the cafe’s owners, neighbors who have opposed the permit and DPD planner Scott Kemp met with community members and heard their statements and questions about the zoning issue. Kemp said the draft list of conditions below will likely be part of his approval of the use permit when it is submitted. Many of the issues covered by the conditional requirements were discussed Monday but this is the first time specifics have been laid out for neighbors, supporters of the cafe and those who oppose the permit.
Most significant in the draft list is likely condition 7. It would restrict permit approval to only an establishment doing business as a restaurant or cafe and would expressly prohibit the opening of a bar or a club at the location.
The conditions do not reference the private covenant that both sides in the zoning dispute have confirmed they are discussing. Neighbors involved in the negotiations and cafe owners Ericka Burke and Heather Earnhardt have declined to discuss the covenant in detail at this time. While additional restrictions on the cafe are possible, other similar agreements have outlined mitigation or spelled out arbitration processes for any future conflicts. Private covenants that are more restrictive than city zoning are, of course, legal as long as the covenant itself doesn’t create an illegal requirement.
Here is the DPD list of draft conditions. When the official decision has been published, a DPD bulletin will go out and the appeal period will begin. There’s a chance that VPC will have its new permit in hand and, with the conditions below, will be sorting out a new way of doing business in the neighborhood by summer.
- On site dining and food preparation activities shall take place only within the principal structure. Portions of the site westward of the principal structure (the rear yard) may be used for raising animals or cultivation as otherwise permitted or restricted by City of Seattle codes and regulations. Adjacent right-of-ways may be used for restaurant activities as authorized in City SDOT permits. The rear yard shall be fenced, have only self closing gates, and all gates shall have signs permanently affixed stating “Private Yard, Not for Restaurant Use.”
- Exhaust from the restaurant kitchen shall be vented and released at a point above the second story roof of the principal structure on the site. Changes to the current kitchen vent shall be undertaken pursuant to an issued DPD permit and shall be accomplished within nine months of the issuance of this MUP decision.
- The hours of restaurant customer service shall be from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm with no food orders taken after 9:00 pm. Tables and chairs in the sidewalk shall not be used by restaurant customers after 5:00 pm and measures shall be taken, as necessary, by the restaurant operators to ensure the 5:00 pm cut off is observed.
- Garbage and recycling bins shall be kept in an area enclosed by a fence at least six feet tall with self closing gates.
- Amplified music is permitted only within the restaurant shall be kept to a “background” level not plainly audible within surrounding residences.
- For the first two years following issuance of this permit the restaurant proprietors shall host a quarterly, weekday evening or weekend day meeting with all interested neighbors to discuss relations between the parties or other neighborhood business.
- Activities conducted under the authority of the restaurant use established by this permit approval shall be limited to dining oriented restaurant and coffee shop use. Commercial uses which emphasize entertainment or liquor consumption are prohibited. Wine and beer can be served only in conjunction with food orders. Hard liquor may not be served on the premises.