Historic building's tearoom, pub OK'd by Annapolis panel

Outdoor music limits imposed to curb noise

October 03, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Annapolitans will soon be able to sip tea or hoist a beer at the 18th-century Reynolds Tavern building on Church Circle.

The city's Board of Appeals agreed Tuesday night to allow Jill and Andrew Petit of Arnold to convert the vacant building into a pub and tearoom with upstairs hotel suites.

The Petits' establishment will be allowed to have a seating capacity of 246 - including 120 seats on an outdoor terrace, a major point of contention for some downtown residents.

The couple said they needed the additional seating to make their business plan work for the circa 1747 building that has been vacant for four years. The last two restaurants there failed.

Yesterday, Andrew Petit said he was "delighted" with the board's decision, which allows them to open pending approval of a liquor license application and of their signs by the Historic Preservation Commission. He said he hopes to open Nov. 10.

"We had a great meeting, we had tremendous public support and I am glad that the board decided to substantially approve our request," he said. "Without a doubt, this gives us what we think we'll need to make this a viable operation."

More than 120 people showed up at the public hearing on the project before the Board of Appeals last month, said Jacquelyn M. Rouse, a senior planner in the city's Department of Planning and Zoning.

Only a half-dozen of the 34 people who spoke were opposed to the plan, Rouse said.

Among those who spoke in opposition to the plan was Alderman Louise Hammond, who represents downtown on the city council, and a representative of the Ward One Residents Association, the downtown community group. The residents association has made it a policy not to endorse the expansion of any downtown restaurant with a liquor license.

Hammond said she thought the number of outdoor seats was too much for the neighborhood and was concerned about noise from outdoor entertainment and traffic that would be generated. Yesterday, she said she was disappointed that concerns about outdoor seating and outdoor music were not given more consideration.

"I wish the business luck, but I still think that is an awful lot of seats to have so close to a residential community," Hammond said. The tavern, across Franklin Street from the Anne Arundel Circuit Court, is insulated by a block of mostly commercial or institutional buildings in all directions.

The Board of Appeals limited outdoor entertainment on the terrace to acoustic music with microphones only for vocalists. The music would be cut off by 10:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends.

The couple will be allowed to seat 60 in the first-floor tearoom and restaurant. Seating will be limited to 66 in the downstairs Sly Fox Pub.

In addition to the 120 seats allowed on the rear terrace, the Petits also are proposing a 12-seat sidewalk cafe in front of the building. That proposal requires city Department of Public Works approval.

Although the board approved five upstairs hotel suites, Andrew Petit said he plans to operate three rooms initially.

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