Tallmadge -- Plans for a restaurant and live music venue called The Sound Garden in Rocco Plaza on West Avenue are muted now that City Council denied the business owner's request for a conditional zoning certificate.
Council voted Oct. 24 to reject the request, agreeing with the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation earlier this month.
A conditional zoning certificate was needed for Rob Morrison, of Springfield Township, to open the restaurant at 290 West Ave., Suite G, on property that's zoned C-4, which allows restaurants that don't serve alcohol. But a city ordinance that requires restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to be located more than 250 feet from an adult entertainment business further complicated the request.
Mayor Dave Kline told City Council during its committee of the whole meeting Oct. 21 that the proposed site for the restaurant was 175 feet from Adultmart that sells adult books, novelties and videos and has several video viewing booths, at the other end of the plaza at 292 West Ave.
Rob Morrison wasn't present at the Council meeting but spoke to the Tallmadge Express in advance.
"I have no interest in doing business with Tallmadge now. They want to pass on an opportunity and be short sighted in thinking ... ," he said.
He planned on operating the restaurant with his wife, Andrea. The establishment was to serve sandwiches and dinners, while entertaining customers with live, local music in an upscale, casual atmosphere. Morrison also envisioned opening the business once a month for art shows featuring the work of high school and college students.
The couple hoped to open the business by the end of the year.
Megan Raber, law director for the city, said the lack of compatibility between the restaurant and businesses in the immediate area was another reason the Commission decided not to recommend the conditional zoning certificate.
"The other factor was that there's also a teen dance club adjacent to the proposed location, as well as the senior housing that's going in the back," she said.
The business' proximity to the teen dance club also was a concern of Kline and the Tallmadge Police Department, and the Commission's additional worries were inadequate parking spaces that could possibly affect nearby businesses.
Morrison said the city's procedures are "flawed," and instead of accepting his application fee for the conditional zoning permit, city officials should have told him about the conflicting ordinance.
Raber said the city is obligated to consider all requests for conditional zoning permits, and Council is the governmental body that makes the final decision about whether the permits are granted.
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