About 30 Bustleton residents went down to the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, August 12, to make it clear that they do not want Cowgirls, Inc., to open a prototype family restaurant/night club in Whitman Square across from a solid residential community. Most of the protesters rode down on a school bus but many who work downtown took the afternoon off to support the Committee for a Better Bustleton’s fight to prevent a business born from Seattle’s Cowgirls flagship (see www.cowgirlsinc.com or www.bustleton.org). The Committee provided hot pink “NO!” signs that made it clear to the ZBA that most of the gallery was there for just one reason. Cowgirls was 11th on the 2 pm docket and the neighbors got to see a number of cases from around the city. When it finally was time for Cowgirls, lawyers Carl Primavera and Ron Patterson joined Cowgirls partner David Braverman and a representative of the Goldenberg Group to make the case that they were confronted by a hardship such that the ZBA should lift restrictions on what can be done at 9701 Roosevelt. They cited previously closed family restaurants and the recession as evidence that a more benign tenant could not be found. They were questioned by the four ZBA members including one series based on a picture of a child riding the mechanical bull in Seattle. Braverman explained that the Seattle location hosts private parties. They were followed by Greater Bustleton Civic League’s zoning chairman Carl Jadach who reiterated a letter sent by President Bernice Hill that asked for a stay in any decision because the GBCL has yet to complete negotiations. I represented the Committee and told the ZBA that hundreds of immediate neighbors did not want the bar to open, largely due to concerns about potential risky behavior in the parking lot and the impact that would have on the immediate neighbors. Comparisons to recent violence at McFadden’s and the American Legion Post brought objections from Patterson. He characterized me as a disgruntled former board member who lost a vote. I characterized his position that the recession should cause the ZBA to allow this use as basically suspending the zoning code during economic downturns. I also asked that the Committee’s letter and hundreds of petitions be added to the record. Harry Haberkern made excellent points about its location between two of the most notoriously dangerous intersections in the country and Councilman Brian O’Neill made a strong showing explaining how the actual tenant, Champps, was nowhere in the negotiation or potential agreement and that the Goldenberg Group had refused to agree to a deed restriction that would make any agreements enforceable and binding on future owners and tenants. He cited the Mayor of Seattle’s declaration that Cowgirls was one of the 10 most dangerous bars in Seattle and said Philadelphia should not be the place to see if the franchise works. Frequent Democratic candidate Tim Kearney also gave the ZBA a prepared statement opposing the granting of a certificate. The ZBA chair announced the case file would be kept open for 2 weeks before the ZBA would issue a decision. Those in attendance felt good about having made their case and await the decision. The Committee will forward any additional petitions to the ZBA in about a week. (Copies of petitions are available at www.bustleton.org and there is a link for emailing the Committee.)
–Maureen Greene, Committee for a Better Bustleton
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