July 30, 2008

Stillwater Gets Ultimatum From City

By Brian Meyer

City inspectors are threatening to close a popular downtown restaurant and nightclub if it doesn't address lingering issues by the end of today.

A city worker hand-delivered a letter to operators of Stillwater at 481 Delaware Ave. on Tuesday indicating that operations should "immediately" be halted. But the city later decided to give the restaurant one day to resolve problems that were supposed to have been addressed more than a year ago under the terms of a conditional license.

The ultimatum came one day before the Common Council was set to meet in special session to consider Stillwater's plan to build a large backyard patio. Residents who live in adjacent upscale rowhouses have been battling the project, claiming that rowdy late- night patrons already keep them awake.

Following months of debate, it appeared as if the project lacked the Council votes to move forward. The city's Planning Board and Preservation Board both opposed construction of a patio behind the restaurant.

Attorney Brian Melber, who represents Stillwater, declined to comment until he can confer with his client.

"We're quite confident we'll get this corrected right away," was all Melber would say.

According to city records, the business failed to document that it performed various work, including the installation of a new fire door in a hallway, ceiling work in a coat room and the securing of a circuit box on an upper floor.

In the letter, city inspector Michael L. Muscarella informed Stillwater that it has not complied with the terms agreed to in discussions that took place after the certificate expired May 6, 2007.

Council Legislation Committee Chairman Joseph Golombek Jr. of the North District said Stillwater came under a microscope after it proposed to build a massive backyard patio. The plan has since been revised to replace some of the deck that would have been used by patrons with landscaping.

But Ginger Schroder and some other residents insist the revised plan remains unacceptable. Any proposal to build a patio must be subjected to an environmental impact study, Schroder said Monday after a meeting with Stillwater attorneys.

Golombek intends to vote against the patio at today's special meeting.

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Originally published by NEWS STAFF REPORTER.

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