Residents, RAP appeal restaurant plan approvals

Two local groups have appealed the city planning commission’s Sep. 27 approval of Mellow Mushroom’s exception application.
Those groups include We Love Avondale LLC — known as “the opposition” to Mellow Mushroom’s Avondale restaurant plans — as well as Riverside Avondale Preservation, according to WLA organizer and Avondale attorney, Thomas M. Donahoo, Jr. RAP Executive Director Carmen Godwin said RAP filed an appeal of the commission’s approval on Oct. 22. WLA filed its appeal on Oct. 18.
The groups are appealing the exception E-12-35, Mellow Mushroom’s application for outdoor sales and service and full sale of alcohol.
WLA and its appeal interests are being represented by local attorneys George Gable and Jennifer Mansfield of Holland & Knight. WLA’s appeal was filed by Donahoo, Mark Anderson and Alicia Grant on behalf of an attached list of more than 100 people who felt the commission did not apply the criteria and standards of review when it approved Mellow Mushroom’s plans in September. In its appeal, the group listed 13 errors the commission committed in its approval.
“The staff report did not provide adequate detailed support of the application or the conditions of approval,” wrote Donahoo in an email last month. “Ultimately, the residents do not believe their concerns were heard.”
An appeals hearing is expected to be heard by the city’s land use and zoning committee on Dec. 4. Depending on the outcome, the committee could make a recommendation to the City Council which could possibly hear the concerns by year’s end or early 2013, Donahoo said.
Mellow Mushroom spokesman Simon Keymer said the group was “disappointed and a little surprised at the appeals filed regarding the planning commission’s decision.”
“In this newspaper in July, a spokesman for WLA, LLC clearly stated that all he wanted was for Mellow Mushroom ‘….to follow the law.’  As WLA, LLC knows, Mellow has met or exceeded the letter of every applicable law and, as a result of community input, radically changed its re-development plans to the point where it now actually exceeds parking requirements,” Keymer shared. “What’s more, both the planning commission and the historic commission have pronounced themselves satisfied. Unfortunately, it seems that just ‘following the law’ is not enough for WLA, LLC after all.”
“We hope that WLA,LLC will  soon refocus on meaningful efforts  to  address existing challenges in the neighborhood, rather than continuing its mean-spirited crusade against a family-friendly restaurant that the overwhelming majority of people in Avondale cannot wait to see open,” Keymer stated.


By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

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