City Council reviews parking appeal for new business (story for print)

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A debate over parking agreements raised questions about the use of old commercial properties in Knoxville that lack sufficient parking space.

The council voted 7-1 to deny an appeal by Lockett Road homeowner Maha Ayesh. Ms. Ayesh was appealing a unanimous decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow Abridged Beer Company owner Jesse Bowers to amend the required number of parking spaces at his new restaurant from 43 to zero.

“The proposed establishment is described as a brewery and restaurant. I’m going to refer to it as bar, because that’s what I see it as, is a bar,” Ms. Ayesh said.

Neighbors voiced concerns about reckless driving, noise, and patrons parking on the street in front of their homes.

“It can’t be injurious to the neighborhood. We’re very concerned that it will be injurious.”

“I know I’m going to have people come down through my yard, maybe some of them will park in my yard,” said longtime resident Gene Herrill.

Mr. Bowers has reached an alternative parking agreement with Erin Presbyterian Church to allow restaurant goers to use their lot, a plan that offers little comfort to Lockett road residents. Neighbors noted that the church hosts regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the restaurant will have hours on Sunday evenings.

The council noted the lack of other options; every establishment allowed in the general commercial zone requires parking that doesn’t exist at this property.

“The issue is really the parking, and it sounds like the opposition is really based on the use. There’s no use of this property without some type of variance,” said Councilman Marshall Stair.

The appeal was denied, and Abridged Beer Company will be allowed to continue its plans.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Reem Abdelrazek, who was there to support her neighbor’s appeal. “I feel like we were blindsided.”

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