Newly opened Fatz Cafe has become so successful that the restaurant needs extra parking that's not currently allowed in county ordinances.
But they'll get it after a 3-2 vote Tuesday night from the Board of Commissioners to grant the Belair Road restaurant a 90-day temporary permit for unpaved parking.
Commissioners Steve Brown and Diane Ford voted against the idea because the county does not have a zoning law that allows unpaved parking lots for new businesses.
"The ordinance comes first before you make an approval," Brown said. "If you're going to approve it for one, they you need to approve it for others."
Commission Chairman Ron Cross brought up the request Tuesday night and said that customers have run out of room to park at the restaurant.
As a result, patrons have begun parking in unmarked spots and across the street at the University Hospital complex and walking across the traffic of Belair Road.
Because the restaurant is looking to sell an adjacent piece of land, it would be costly for them to pave it now and have it torn up later for the construction of another building, Cross said.
Citing safety reasons, Cross said he was frustrated that a special exception could not be made even though the ordinance does not allow for the temporary parking.
"I don't understand why we can't help them," he said. "I don't like it tied up in all these regulations that never get fixed."
Brown said the issue could be fixed through an addition of temporary parking provisions to the county's code, which would necessitate an amendment that goes to the Planning Commission, a public hearing and two readings by the County Commission.
Senior Planner Tim Young said the formal approval process could take 60 days.
"They're just going to be in a noncompliant situation out there," Cross said in response to the argument for making the restaurant wait until the code is updated.
In the end, Commissioners Cross, Tom Mercer and Lee Anderson voted for the 90-day permit and said at the end of the period, the temporary parking would be no longer be allowed.
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