Cartersville council goes Mellow, sides with restaurant
by Neil B. McGahee
Apr 18, 2014 | 3528 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a sometime tense dialogue at the Cartersville City Council’s meeting, past met future and future won.

The Cartersville Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) had ruled at its April 15 meeting that the Mellow Mushroom restaurant under construction at 28 South Wall St. was in violation of historic preservation standards as outlined in the city’s guidebook.

According to the committee, the restaurant added a 40-inch wide brick column, then tried to get approval at a later time, a violation of historic preservation guidelines. Mellow Mushroom said it was a necessity because the structure was not safe and sought to get the council to overturn the commission’s ruling.

Mellow Mushroom is a chain of pizza restaurants that is known as much for its art as its pies. According to a press release, the restaurant will offer a full-service bar, outside patio and a wide-ranging menu including calzones, hoagies and gluten-free options aside from pizza.

The 150-year-old building, the former Antonino’s Italian restaurant, is being renovated according to plans drawn up by Mellow Mushroom and the franchise holders and approved by the HPC.

One of the owners, Frank Kenney, admitted that the brick column should not have been installed without notifying HPC, but the instability of the building required immediate action.

Preservation committee member Larry Gregory disputed Kenney’s version.

“His architect, Kirby Pate, originally presented their plans and we approved everything they asked for,” Gregory said. “They were supposed to come back with the changes made, but the day before, I went by the site and they were building the wall.”

The next day, Gregory said Pate first said he didn’t know why it was there then later said it was a support issue. Later, however, Gregory said Pate said there were alternative solutions.

“Mr. Pate knows it was not approved and should have come before the HPC,” Gregory said.

In an ideal world, Leon Berry, operations manager of Mellow Mushroom, told the council that the project would already be finished.

“When you’re dealing with a building of that age,” he said. “You are bound to run into problems and the problems we encountered caused us to spend a lot more money than the investors planned so we went with the option that was best for us.”

After a series of questions for both sides, the council voted 4-1, with Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Tate voting no, to overturn the commission’s ruling.

Next, the council heard the first reading of an amendment to the alcohol control ordinance that would allow package wine sales and events such as wine tastings at wine specialty shops within the downtown business district. By law, no resolution can be voted on until the second reading, so the amendment was tabled until the next meeting.

The council also voted unanimously to approve the amendment of an ordinance that would prohibit adult entertainment at the civic center.

Finance director Tom Reinhardt presented the financial report for February.

“Revenues increased over February 2013 by $733,121 due to reimbursements from the Georgia Department of Transportation and increases in taxes and school bond payments,” he said. “However, expenses increased by more than $1.6 million due to personnel and operating expenses and capital increases.”

In other business, the council:

• authorized $7,550 for the purchase of a dump truck chassis for the Parks and Recreation Department.

• approved the purchase of a 60-foot commercial mower for $9,275 from Haney Farm and Supply.

• approved expenditures of up to $14,000 to replenish the city’s fiber optic cable supply.

• approved change order No.1 for $92,722.55 to replace casing that was broken and damaged during construction.

• authorized a quitclaim deed giving the property at 22 and 24 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Cartersville City Council’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, May 1, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.