The Abbey Group, LLC applied for zoning approvals and a liquor license last year to operate The Abbey – a coffee bar and restaurant/ lounge. Construction has started on the outdoor patio for the business on Home Street. The Abbey’s zoning requests were approved with specific conditions to mitigate the impact on adjacent residents and businesses, including limited hours of operation for the patio, specific screening for the patio to control sound, no amplified music on the patio, and limited live entertainment, as well as other items. Those items and conditions were created in response to a meeting held regarding the business on October 22, 2012. They plan to open in June 2015.
On April 9th, The Abbey Group, LLC presented their plans before zoning. Residents attend to testify to concerns around parking and noise. The Abbey is asking for the following variances and special exceptions:
- Special Exception: 911.04.A.57 use of restaurant (general) is a Special Exception in LNC zoning district – Any restaurant larger than 2400 sq. ft. must be approved with a special exception in a local neighborhood commercial district.
- Special Exception: 914.07.G.2(a) off-site parking is a Special Exception – The lot that the owners have is across Home Street, and they will have 14 spaces in this lot. A lot that is not directly on-site must be approved with a special exception.
- Variance: 914.09.A.1 no surface parking on property zoned LNC shall be located within 10ft of the street right-of-way; off-site parking spaces fall within 10ft setback along Home Street – Right now the lot is over the required setback, and they are asking that it be approved as it is, but with appropriate screening (greening, etc).
- Variance: 922.04.E.3(e)(i) no corner lot shall be used as off- street parking area – A corner property in a local neighborhood commercial district must be approved with a variance, this lot is already a surface parking lot.
- Variance: 918.03.B.3 screen shall be designed and installed so that the object being screened is not more than 20% visible when viewed through the screen – The owners will screen the parking with evergreens and other greenery to help create a better atmosphere
The Abbey, LLC have worked with Lawrenceville United on those concerns and several conditions have been finalized. A summary of the notes from the March 19th community meeting, as well as the compromises are listed below:
Meeting Summary and Outlined Conditions/ Operational Standards:
Overall, the community in attendance at the meeting seemed to support the reuse of the building and its use as a restaurant/ coffee bar. The owners described this as a neighborhood-serving establishment where one could grab coffee and a light breakfast during the morning, but could also grab a bite to eat or a drink in the evening. There were specific concerns relative to the impact on existing residents from parking, noise from the outside patio, over-occupancy, operating as a destination bar and not coffee bar/ restaurant, and other issues. The owners did answer questions specifically around some of the concerns that helped to clarify outstanding issues and ease some of the overall concern.
- Parking: The owners will be providing 14 parking spaces in the lot at Home/ Butler, 4 on-site spaces, 5 spaces within the garages at the rear, and 6 bike parking spaces. The owners will also list on their website where patrons are able to park (in the lot and on Butler Street – avoiding residential streets), and will provide signage within the establishment letting folks know that parking is in the lot and on Butler Street . The parking lot will be screened.
- Noise: Many residents were concerned with the potential noise that could come from the outdoor patio. The owners have agreed that there will be no outdoor entertainment, the patio will be closer to Butler, and it will be screened with a rod iron fence with concrete columns and greenery (ivy) that can help to serve as a sound barrier and will keep this separate from the residential street. The patio will have dining table seating and no wet bars outdoors and can be utilized throughout the day.
- Smoke Free: The owners have agreed to have a smoke-free indoor and outdoor establishment, and have agreed to keep the exterior premises clean on a daily basis.
- Garbage: No garbage will be taken out between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am to prevent loud noise that could wake up neighbors.
- Fan: The exhaust fan will be built to exit the roof – and will not blow or face towards any residential property.
- Responsible Alcohol Management: The owners will ensure that all servers are RAMP certified.
- Occupancy: The owners will enforce their occupancy.
- Take Out Beer: There will be no take out beer, or drinks priced below $3.
- Live Music and Entertainment: No music or amplified sound outdoors, no DJ’s, no planned Dance Floor.
- Kitchen: There will be a full kitchen with a full kitchen staff.
UPDATE: The Zoning Board approved their application with the following conditions:
- The Applicant will promote the parking spaces available to its customers by posted notice on its business website, and the business door.
- The Applicant will screen the parking lot.
- The Applicant will screen the outdoor patio with soundproofing measures.
- The Applicant will have no amplified music or entertainment on the outdoor patio.
- The Applicant will have no designated dance floor within the restaurant.
- The Applicant will not take recyclable trash and glass out to the dumpsters between 11:00pm and 7:00am.
- Site Plan Review by the Zoning Administrator shall be required, including required screening in accord with the Board’s findings.