Monday, September 19, 2022

Dining, Hookah, but not Belly Dancing

Another Time, Same Old Place

Back in June, a wild night at the Richardson City Council meeting saw the Council reverse themselves on a key rezoning vote. After voting 4-3 in May to approve a rezoning request for an outdoor venue for dining/hookah/music on Abrams Road in Richardson, in June Council Member Joe Corcoran reversed himself and voted against the actual ordinance that was drawn up to make the May vote official. The property owner, knocked back on his heels by this reversal, went back to his corner and licked his wounds. Now he's back with a request for approval of a similar application for the same property.

In my quick perusal of the staff report, the only significant change I can see the applicant is making is that live entertainment will no longer be offered.

Care to guess whether the City Council will approve it this time? Given that three members of the City Council voted (twice) to approve essentially the same application, my guess is that the new application will have at least three votes. Will it get a fourth by dropping the request for live outdoor entertainment?

In the first round, Ken Hutchenrider voted "no" after offering reasons to vote "yes" and reasons to vote "no". He acted as if he were conflicted. Afterwards, in a comment on The Wheel, he wasn't conflicted. The smoking request alone was a dealbreaker for him. As that isn't changing in the new application, expect him to vote "no" again.

In the first round, Bob Dubey voted "no". He appeared to have been the point man on the Council for the late rallying of the neighborhood with a petition opposing the application after it had already been approved in the first round of voting in May. Getting that petition, he appeared to have been the Council Member who requested to take the second vote out of the so-called Consent Agenda so it could be voted on separately. What riled the neighborhood seemed to have been the plan for live music. With that gone, will the neighborhood quiet down? Will Dubey change his mind?

In the first round, Arefin Shamsul voted "no", saying he supported the idea of an outdoor dining/hookah/music venue, just not in that neighborhood. It's still the same neighborhood. Was it the live music that was the dealbreaker for Arefin? He didn't specify. It's hard to say whether removal of that part of the request is enough to win his vote this time.

That leaves Joe Corcoran, the only Council Member who flip-flopped between May and June. He voted "yes" in May; "no" in June. He was the key vote then. If the three other "no" votes remain "no" this time, Corcoran could be the key vote again in an evenly split 3-3 Council. In June, Corcoran was swayed to switch his vote by the neighborhood petition. Will the neighborhood tell Corcoran how to vote this time? Or will he have to use his own judgment? If so, what would that be?

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before the City Council can consider its own decision (possibly twice), the application has to go before the City Plan Commission September 20, 2022. Approval by the CPC isn't strictly necessary, but a denial there would then require a super-majority for approval by City Council, a super-majority that is conceivable, but unlikely. The CPC approved the original application, so you might think approval of this slimmed down request would be approved as well. But don't bet on it. The CPC is not known for its predictability or consistency.

Taking all this into consideration, my own betting line would be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

The restaurant owner gave up having outdoor entertainment. He gave up alcohol sales. He offered to restrict hours to midnight. The only issue remaining for the CPC to decide was whether to grant a special use permit for a smoking establishment. The City Plan Commission voted 5-2 to grant that. Sibyl Lacour said she would never vote to approve a special use permit for a smoking establishment. Gwen Walraven didn't offer a reason for her "no" vote (again). So now it goes to City Council.