In July, when the Zoning Board of Appeals approved Chris and Pat Fleming’s proposal to construct a beer garden behind their business, Slainte Irish Pub, 7505 Madison St., the brothers had only one more bureaucratic hurdle to clear — securing approval from the village council.
Those efforts failed as the village council, at Monday night’s meeting, instead opted to pass a secondary motion, made by Commissioner Tom Mannix, to send the proposal back to the Zoning Board for more discussion. The motion passed by a 4 -1 vote with Commissioner Joe Byrnes as the lone dissenter.
This development is the latest in a multi-year process by Slainte’s owners to establish a beer garden, a feature several other Madison Street businesses, including Doc Ryan’s and Fat Duck, already operate.
As reported by the Review in 2012, the village council rejected, also by a 4 -1 margin, a previous request by the brothers to construct a beer garden. Then-commissioner Rory Hoskins was the only official to vote in support of the garden. Mayor Anthony Calderone and Mannix, who both served as council members at the time, voted in opposition.
Mannix cited a few reasons for his opposition, including several phone calls from residents and business owners who felt they did not have “adequate opportunity” to voice their opinions, including concerns over loud music.
“I just want to make sure those residents and business owners have an opportunity to have their voices heard in front of the Zoning Board,” Mannix said.
Revealing his trepidation over the number of alleyway parking spaces that will be lost as a result of the expansion, Mannix added, “Obviously parking on Madison Street is tight as it is.”
Currently six vehicles are able to park behind Slainte, but with the proposed beer garden expansion, that number will be reduced to 3.
Mannix is also wary of the plans submitted to the council, which show a rear entryway to the beer garden. Section 3-3-5 of the Village Code prohibits any entrance to a beer garden except through the main entrance of the establishment.
The submitted plans, although approved by the Zoning Board, do show a rear entrance. However, in his remarks, Mannix admitted he was told the rear exit is for access to an alleyway dumpster.
Mentioning concerns over underage drinking, Mannix added, “I believe that our [Zoning Board] could come up with a little more creative solution [for the rear entrance].”
When asked by the Review to explain his opposition to Mannix’s motion, Byrnes said, “Zoning already passed [the proposal]. Why are we sending it back?”
Byrnes then went on to say he believes the council should have taken action on the original agenda item, whether or not to approve the proposal, instead of opting for more discussion.
“Let’s get on board with [the proposal] or vote it down,” Byrnes concluded.
The next scheduled Zoning Board meeting is the third week in October, which means the earliest date the council could re-examine the issue would be sometime in November.