Zoning amendment seeks to curb parking requirement for restaurant seating in waterfront district
Belfast — City councilors accepted the first reading of an amendment to the waterfront mixed-use zoning district that would allow restaurants to expand their existing seating without requiring additional parking.
The proposed amendment is a short-term solution to a problem that came to light last year when Pig Out BBQ owner Ted Guerry went before the Planning Board asking for a waiver that would allow him to add an additional 10 seats in his restaurant without having to provide more parking.
Under the city ordinance, restaurants must provide 0.4 parking spaces per seat in the restaurant. Guerry's seating expansion would have required him to provide an additional four parking spaces.
Because he could not provide the additional spaces in close proximity to the restaurant, Planning Board members denied his waiver request.
City Planner Wayne Marshall explained to councilors March 4 that the amended waterfront mixed use zoning district would allow restaurants such as Pig Out BBQ to expand their existing seating by at least 25 percent without requiring any additional on-site or off-site parking, provided the restaurant does not decrease the existing number of on-site parking spaces available.
Also, an application by a restaurant to increase the number of existing seats by more than 25 percent will be granted a waiver of the off-street parking requirement equal to an increase of 25 percent of the number of existing seats, and the applicant may request and the planning board may grant a waiver of all or a portion of the off-street parking requirements associated with the increase in the number of seats which is greater than 25 percent, according to the text of the amendment.
The proposed amendment would apply to all restaurants in the waterfront mixed-use zoning district, but would specifically affect five existing restaurants: Front Street Pub, Pig Out BBQ, Thai Bhurapar, Three Tides and Weathervane.
When asked by City Manager Joseph Slocum how many years the short-term amendment would be in effect for, Marshall said the amendment would sunset in 2016.
Marshall noted the short-term amendment would give officials time to take a more proactive look at future parking needs in the city.
City Councilors unanimously accepted the amendment as a first reading.
In other business
Councilors approved a resolution proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
City officials considered a resolution regarding divestment of publicly traded fossil fuels. Councilors did not take any action on the resolution but indicated they wanted time to further consider the matter before their next meeting.
Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge was authorized to submit an expression of interest to the Federal Communications Commission in order to pursue funding to expand broadband internet services in Belfast.
Councilors also authorized Kittredge to award all bids associated with the Community Development Block Grant Micro Enterprise Assistance Grant.
Ron Harriman Associates was hired to provide grant administrative services and rehabilitation technician services for a potential CDBG Housing Assistance grant.
Councilors approved a six-month leave of absence for City Assessor Bob Whiteley due to health problems.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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