Town council declines approval for restaurant's outdoor dining permit
January 21, 2021
On Tuesday, the Cathlamet Town Council declined to pass a motion to "approve The Spar restaurant's right-of-way permit subject to agreed upon terms" in a 3 to 1 vote, which gives outdoor dining on Main Street a bleak future.
In the same council meeting, the first reading of an amended fire code ordinance was passed which would allow River Mile 38 Brewing Co. to expand its operation at the marina without needing sprinkler systems.
Other items discussed include an update on the covid-19 sewer testing which the town is contemplating to continue because of cost and efficiency. Public Works Superintendent David McNally will seek advice from the health department on whether to continue or not. The council passed a motion to approve that the town pay the full cost for the Pioneer Cemetery lawn maintenance for 2021 per an agreement with the county. A cooperative funding agreement with the county was passed which will provide financial assistance to the town for annual operations & maintenance of the swimming pool pending reopening.
After a month of deliberation between the council and The Spar owner Stephanie Vossen, the right-of-way permit to enable outdoor dining on Main street has once again been shot down, but "isn't dead" according to council members.
Council Member David Olson supported the approval of the application and shared a status update on the agencies whose conditions must be met before the council could approve.
"We either support our businesses or we don't. The best approach is the approach that keeps businesses open. We have approval from Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the health department, our public works inspector, and the liquor board. Every ancillary agency has said that they can live with the conditions set forth by the applicant," Olson stated.
Council Members Robert Stow, Bill Wainwright, and Laurel Waller once again expressed their support of local businesses but felt strongly that safety was not guaranteed when it comes to outdoor dining on Main street. More so, council members characterized Vossen as insubordinate to state laws and guidelines relating to covid-19 protocol, sidewalk accessibility, and parking.
"We are in agreement that we want The Spar not to die, but the applicant has not respected the rules and has been told on multiple occasions," Stowe explained. "I would really like to see it pass, but I want a guarantee that she will follow the rules. There is no indication whatsoever that she will."