Planning Commission delays vote on Mozambique plans

Planning Commissioners sent architect Marshall Ininns back to the drawing board to improve the design of an elevator shaft before they would vote on the rooftop deck proposed by Mozambique.

The commission indicated Wednesday that they favored the idea of a rooftop deck for the steakhouse restaurant, but that the proposed elevator was an unacceptable eyesore. Ininns was given a month to come up with a new design for the elevator, which is required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"I can't vote for the project with the elevator as is," said Commissioner Norm Grossman, whose lead was followed by the other commissioners.

Neighbors vehemently opposed the rooftop deck and the testimony was passionate, but even they had to laugh when Ininns' pants dropped down around his knees as he stood at the rostrum presenting the project. Fortunately, his mishap was covered by a long shirt.

The rooftop deck is being proposed to increase daytime clientele, Ininns said.

Hours of operation for the 1,200-square-foot deck will be from 8 a.m. to an hour after sunset, Grossman said. The commission also limited occupation on it to 75 people. Food and beverage service was approved but music, live or piped, will not be allowed under conditions imposed by the commission.

In a letter read by Tom Girven, Village Laguna President Ginger Osborne called the rooftop deck an unwarranted intrusion traditionally rejected by the Design Review Board.

However, commercial projects are reviewed for design as well as use by the commission.

Opposition to the project also was expressed by eight neighbors, based on increased traffic and noise, view blockage, and the belief that Mozambique is not primarily a restaurant, but a nightclub that doesn't belong in the area and stimulates inappropriate activity.

Many said the Quiet Zone, where only residents and their guests may park at night, isn't working and they have quit reporting violations.

Mallory McCamant told the commission not to underestimate neighborhood fatigue.

Agate Street resident Alice Blumetti said motherhood has taught her about sleep deprivation, but so has Mozambique.

"This project is inappropriate for the neighborhood," Blumetti said.

The commission addressed the issue of nighttime noise from the deck by shortening the nighttime hours of operation requested. It also took it a step further by a recommendation to once again advise the City Council to limit restaurant hours to midnight on the weekends — a recommendation the council had previously rejected.

Most of the audience at Wednesday's hearing applauded the recommendation.

However, Mozambique General Manager George Poulos feels the restaurant gets blamed for any nighttime noise, whether it's responsible or not. He said one woman's complaint about three girls drinking from bottles of Corona beer outside her home and using foul language was misdirected.

Mozambique does not serve Corona in bottles, but a nearby liquor store does, Poulos said.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly used Montage instead of Mozambique on a couple references.

Neighbors apparently didn't like the elevator any more than did the commissioners. And some of them didn't think Ininns' proposal to remove trees on Mozambique and neighboring property to mitigate the view blockage by the elevator was a satisfactory solution.

"We love all the palm trees and don't want them removed," Ed Todeschini said.

The hearing is scheduled to be resumed Oct. 24.

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