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'Brewhaus' neighbors raise impact concerns

JACKSONVILLE — Neighbors are skeptical the city will enforce mitigation measures approved by its Planning Commission to reduce the impact on residents from Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus German restaurant and bar.

"I was happy with a lot of what they said," said Diane Moore, a resident on nearby Cardwell Court. "There's a difference between saying and actually getting it done."

Commissioners on July 21 voted 5-1 for five measures to decrease the restaurant's impact, but some of the mandates — those related to delivery trucks and signs — revisit earlier decisions and have not been followed.

Marta Lyons, who lives on G Street near the restaurant, appealed to the City Council an earlier approval by the commission that allowed the restaurant to continue to operate with a separate prep kitchen. Lyons contended the commission did not determine whether the kitchen was a stand-alone facility or an expansion that required another look at the impacts.

In early July, council upheld the commission's decision but sent it back to them to rule on the issue and to examine mitigation. The commission ruled the kitchen is an expansion.

"I feel they didn't really address how they are going to enforce these regulations," said Lyons of the commission's latest ruling. "The city needs to stand up and stand behind and enforce their codes."

In 2008, a restaurant was approved for the Music Building at the former Jacksonville School campus. But the restaurant moved instead into the basement of the nearby 1908 schoolhouse. The separate prep kitchen was built in the Music Building.

Neighbors have testified before the Planning Commission and the City Council that they are disturbed by lights and noise from the operation. Concerns have also been raised about traffic and delivery trucks.

Mitigation efforts will address five areas:

  • A new landscape plan for G Street will require a fence to provide additional screening to reduce the impact of headlights on neighborhood residences.
  • A master sign program must be submitted to include signs for ingress and egress throughout the campus. A previous approval had called for submission of such a plan by December 2010, but that has not happened. The plan must be submitted by Oct. 31.
  • A new fence between the restaurant and Music Building must have a gate installed as earlier required by the city.
  • A revised site plan must be submitted for the delivery area. A discrepancy exists over how many parking spaces can fit while providing adequate unloading areas.
  • An arborist must be consulted about pruning oak trees at the E Street entrance to allow delivery trucks to go though the campus. Original plans called for trucks to enter from E Street and exit onto G Street.

"Delivery trucks are backing up Hueners Lane onto G into the egress driveway," said Penni Viets, who lives on D Street.

"The kids use those back roads to walk to school," said Moore. "It's a real traffic hazard."

All deliveries are now scheduled on two days per week to lessen impact, said Brooke Ashland, who with her husband, Mel, owns the property where the restaurant is located.

"Hopefully, we are getting to the end of what we need to do to mitigate any issues on the back side of the property," said Ashland.

Two fences have been installed and cedar trees planted along G Street to reduce light coming from the area, she said.

"Nobody's trying to make the business go away," said Moore. "You just figure if you're going to have a business in a neighborhood, you've got to have concern for the neighbors, too."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.