Planners give go-ahead for liquor license at Spinnaker’s
The Planning Commission last week voted on two recommendations that will pave the way for Spinnaker’s Café to add beer and wine to its menu. Both recommendations will now go to the Zoning Board of Review for approval.
The first recommendation was to grant the restaurant a new-use permit. Since Spinnaker’s Café is not currently licensed to sell any form of alcohol, the commission said any liquor sales would technically be considered a new use. The commissioners voted unanimously with one abstention to grant the new-use license. Michael Jacquard recused himself from the discussion and vote.
However, the second vote concerning the parking ordinance was more contentious.
According to law, Spinnaker’s Café would need relief from the parking ordinance. The town requires Spinnaker’s Café to provide nine parking spaces, but the eatery is only able to provide three.
While the café is not adding seats, the request for a new-use permit requires the applicant go though the entire zoning process again, including parking. In the past, Spinnaker’s Café has operated with a parking waiver.
Attorney John Murphy, who represented Spinnaker’s, says most restaurants in town also fail to meet the parking ordinance. Moreover, Murphy said, he doesn’t think the enhanced beverage menu will have that much of an impact.
“A beer and wine license is unlikely to add business,” he said.
Determining the number of parking spots Spinnaker’s Café needs to provide is complicated, said Murphy. The Jamestown parking formula is a simple ratio dependent on the number of seats a restaurant has.
However, Spinnaker’s Café has four different kinds of seating. Thirty-eight seats are indoor, but only 30 are year-round. There are six seats available on the deck behind the East Ferry marina, but those are seasonal. There are also 24 summer seats available in front of Spinnaker’s Café on the board- walk.
The restaurant plans to sell beer and wine only at the 38 indoor seats for control and distribution reasons, Murphy said.
Commissioner Michael Smith argued strongly against recommending parking relief to Spinnaker’s
Café. He was the lone dissenting vote. He said parking in town is stressed past the breaking point.
The recommendation passed 5-1 with Jacquard abstaining again.
In other news, the planning board discussed the ordinance concerning control over buildings of value in town. The decree has caused some contention lately. The preservation of older buildings in the Shoreby Hill neighborhood has repeatedly come before the board in recent months.
“I think we need to discuss the ordinance in terms of what are the intentions of this Planning Commission,” said Town Planner Lisa Bryer.
The idea behind a building-ofvalue ordinance is the protection and preservation of structures that have intangible value, Bryer said. The importance could come from the architectural style or events associated with the building. The Three Sisters homes next to BankNewport were used as examples. According to Bryer, protecting such structures is worthwhile. “That’s the value of the buildingof value ordinance,” she said.
However, the law does have some language and continuity issues. “What does it mean?” asked Commissioner Rosemary Enright.
“If it doesn’t say what we want it to say,” responded Bryer, “let’s change it.”
Changing the ordinance would require input from the community, the commissioners agreed.
“Community support will be the people who really want to have this,” said Vice Chairman Duncan Pendlebury.
Some even wondered if the ordinance is a redundant protection.
“Is it hearsay to say towns evolve, and if an owner doesn’t like it, tear it down?” asked Chairman Mike Swistak. “What’s wrong with tearing down one of the Three Sisters, rebuilding it and make it two sisters and a brother.”
Bryer thinks a clear ordinance is needed.
“I think it gives us a tool in our tool box,” said Bryer.
Lastly, the Planning Commission reviewed its recusal procedures. One member recused himself from the Spinnaker’s discussion. No action was taken on the matter. In the past, members who recused themselves left the panel and sat in the back corner behind town staff.