The House That Drives Men Mad

Most of you know TBK and I are building a restaurant on Magazine St. – and we are blessedly nearing the end of construction. I’ll be calling the Health Dept by week’s end to set up an inspection and, hopefully, all will fall into place pretty quickly.

In an effort to get ahead of the regulatory curve, I took my architectural drawings to the Historic District Landmark Commission last July 30th. The HDLC is the city agency that must approve any proposed changes to building facades in a historic district (where we are). In a quick ten minutes, after a review of the drawings, I obtained a letter stating any proposed changes were not visible from the street and therefore the HDLC had no objection to our plans. Hooray!

Since we are planning to sell beer and wine, we have also had to approach the City Planning Commission with a request for a conditional use permit — an agreement that establishes the rules under which such alcohol sales can take place. Our first hearing before the Planning Commission Advisory Group was today at City Hall. We were among the first on the agenda and anticipated no problems.

Silly us.

The Advisory Group includes the same HDLC lady who reviewed our plans and signed my approval letter on July 30th. Today she starts raising questions about the air-conditioning units we’ve moved to the roof of the ladies room. I literally blinked in disbelief while at the rostrum. This lady says the a/c units weren’t on the plans she had seen earlier. I responded that I’ve had only one set of plans done, and she saw the complete set when she gave me the earlier approval. She shook her head no.

Huh? WTF?

While our opening is not being delayed and we have a second hearing scheduled Dec. 11th, we now have to take pictures that prove the a/c units are not visible from the street and make a second, redundant, silly and ludicrous trip to the HDLC.

This from a city government that claims it wants to attract new business.

12 Comments so far

  1. Kapaali (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

    What’s your restaurant’s name? I wanna know so I can go there when you open.

  2. Craig (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 6:15 pm

    Thanks for asking, but I won’t spam this site with promotional stuff. If you do a little digging and linking, you’ll find it.

  3. rcs (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 8:50 am

    Found it! Can’t wait to check it out, you’re well within my dining perimeter :)

  4. termite. (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 9:47 am


    a womans name.
    6 syllables
    rhymes with Chiquita … sort of.. lol
    serves breakfast, BBQ & beer!


  5. Jack Ware (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 9:48 am

    Speaking of spam….is spam on the menu? That would rule!!

  6. Craig (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    Sorry Jack. No Spamity-Spam.

  7. TBK (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

    If you’re REAL nice I’ll be sure to keep a couple of cans in the back.

  8. Craig (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

    Yeah — we’re got access to some 1950s recipes that wodl rock your world. Spam and pineapple, Spam with tomato aspic, etc. We’ll make it up special just for you.

  9. Owen (unregistered) on December 1st, 2007 @ 10:12 am


    This lady says the a/c units weren’t on the plans she had seen earlier. I responded that I’ve had only one set of plans done, and she saw the complete set when she gave me the earlier approval. She shook her head no.

    Yup, she basically called you a liar. She also believes, inexplicably, that her memory from nearly two months ago is clear enough to justify her revising her earlier decision.

    Given the apparently flakiness of this woman, it would probably be a good idea for the city to make all HDLC decisions, even preliminary decisions, irrevocable. You might want to tell your story and make this recommendation to your city councilperson.

  10. Craig (unregistered) on December 1st, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

    Well, the woman 1) failed to make a complete review of plans the first time (i.e., she failed to do her job), 2) has a memory problem worthy of medical attention, or 3) had some reason to lie to me. Not sure which is was, but….

    My landlord, who was hotter than I was about the whole deal, took the plans and a bunch of photos down to this woman’s office on Friday, along with a copy of the original letter that had been written. Now this woman says she might stop by on Monday to take a personal look at the situation.

    For now, I’m reserving my rights and holding my tongue. We’re in compliance.

  11. JAUG (unregistered) on December 4th, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    So she has conflict of interest job sitting on 2 boards? You were there for a liquor license, then why is she reviewing your blueprints when you’ve already received the go ahead? Is what she doing even legal?

  12. Craig (unregistered) on December 4th, 2007 @ 9:12 am

    It’s not a question of whether I can open up — she has nothing to do with that. It’s a question of whether everyone says the place is okay to sell alcohol. My first trip to the HDLC (to get their approval on building plans) was simply to make sure there wasn’t a problem with any of the design so I could avoid unexpected expense later.

    I know it seems redundant and stupid, but them’s the rules.

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