Cartersville council OKs restaurant expansion
by Neil B. McGahee
Aug 22, 2014 | 3725 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two weeks of searching failed to produce a satisfactory compromise in the debate over a proposed parking lot at Moore’s Gourmet Market at 221 Fite St.

Cortney Hultman, owner of the popular restaurant, applied in June for a special use permit to demolish a house bordering his business and create a lot for overflow parking. Hultman justified his proposal stating that by adding off-street parking, traffic flow would be improved.

However, Emma Templeton, 83, who has lived at 4 Walker St. adjacent to the restaurant, for more than 60 years, objected, saying as many as 11 headlights would shine directly through her windows making it impossible for her to sleep.

At the Aug. 7 meeting, the council voted to table the measure to give the parties time to negotiate.

“We have racked our brains trying to think of something we could do,” said Shep Helton, Templeton’s attorney. “And we just can’t think of anything we can do.”

Helton said he had come up in the past hour with a new twist.

“I think the application is inappropriate,” Helton told the council. “Not inappropriate from a fairness standpoint, but from a legal one. The application is for the expansion of a non-conforming use. But when ‘For the Love of Food’ bought the property in 2005, they bought it in three different tracks. One of those tracts is the property in question and it has a rental house on it. A rental house is not a non-conforming use, rather it is a conforming use.”

Helton said it wasn’t a question of expanding a non-conforming use, rather it means tearing down a conforming use, then adding a special use permit.

“Based on my reading of the statutes,” he said, “there are several special uses available for R-7 zoning including accessory apartments, bed and breakfasts, corporate lodges, day care facilities and group homes. Neither a parking lot or a restaurant is listed, so this particular special use would not be allowed in R-7.”

Helton said the statutes hold that “the existing non-conforming use of a structure shall not be changed if it generates more noise, traffic, vibrations or fumes and is a greater nuisance to the adjoining properties than the conforming-use structure.”

“If you put a parking lot there, there will be more truck traffic, more noise, more vibration than is there currently, thus it is a greater nuisance,” he said. “I think the council would be out of order if this is approved because it’s wrong. It’s not a correct use of the application because it’s not right. It can’t be approved.”

Two other citizens, neighbors of the restaurant, voiced their approval of the rezoning.

Hultman told the council that he had spent a lot of time and money to build the restaurant and that to eliminate the extra parking spots would handicap his ability to do business.

Mayor Pro-Tem Diane Tate made a motion that the permit be approved, provided a 7-foot high, double-sided privacy fence be erected and the area be landscaped to reduce noise and vibrations. She also recommended the parking area in question be utilized by restaurant employees only to cut down on in-and-out traffic.

The motion was passed unanimously.

Helton said he was unsure about what would happen next.

“I will have to further research the situation, then decide where we go next,” he said.

The council also:

• Authorized Mayor Matt Santini to sign a GDOT document regarding traffic signals for the Cloverleaf Redesign Project at the intersection of U.S. highways 41 and 411.

• Authorized a $754 cost overrun on a $500,000 water filter rehabilitation project.

• Awarded a $1.15 million contract to Unity Construction to relocate water mains to accommodate the Cloverleaf Redesign Project.

• Authorized purchase orders of chemicals to treat city water.

• Authorized $9,818 for purchase of 1,570 feet of pipe and $12,495 for odorant for the gas department.

• Authorized $15,300 to purchase a server upgrade for the police department.

• Authorized $30,750 to purchase 2015 Dodge Durango SUV from Robert Loehr Dodge to be used as an undercover vehicle for the Drug Enforcement Task Force. The purchase is funded by forfeitures of money seized in drug arrests.

• Heard the June finance report, which revealed declining revenues and increased expenses in all but the electric and the fiber optics funds.

Cartersville City Council will meet next on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. at city hall.