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April 7, 2006

Parking

Parking/ Niedfeldt
March 31, 2006


With groups such as “Duluth Needs a Chipotle!? on the infamous college Facebook, and an absence of any authentic burrito serving restaurant in town; the co-owners of Fitger’s Brew House have decided to help Duluthians fill this void. Rod Raymond and Tim Nelson; who now own what was once the Whole Foods Co-Op, plan to turn this run down, graffiti marked building into a new and hip burrito joint; but they have a few hurdles they must overcome before doing so.

The Board of Zoning Appeals held a meeting on March 28th. With President Morrison presiding, the board members met to discuss the number of feasible parking spaces that can be designated to the restaurant. Raymond and Nelson have calculated they need about 23 spaces for their customers, which exceeds the 12 currently present in the lot behind the building. Raymond and Nelson wish to have some on-street parking available for their customers in front of the property, along 4th Street. This idea has brought upon many concerns from nearby business owners.

“This is detrimental to local businesses,? said Phillip Lundberg, owner of Chester Park Laundromat. Right out in front “is the only parking close to my Laundromat to carry their laundry to.?

“If customers don’t get a spot within a block, they will go somewhere else. Then they will become accustomed to going elsewhere,? said Lundberg.

Raymond doesn’t agree that his business will ruin Lundberg’s; he actually thinks that the restaurant could benefit the Laundromat.

“I can see a student throwing in a load of laundry, then coming over and grabbing a burrito,? said Raymond to the BZA with a smile.

Stanly Hendrickson, a 75 year resident expressed his concern as well; “I’ve swam in the river at Devil’s Hole when I was a kid, Chester Park has always been my playground.? Hendrickson expects that people will carry their food out to the park, and “won’t be over there cleaning it up- the city and neighbors will have to.?

Another Chester Park resident pointed out the fact that “Things change; things can’t always be the way they were.?

“Duluthians with a six week summer should certainly be able to eat outside,? added Vicki Sandville, a member of Campus Neighbors (an organization created to strengthen the relationship between students and residents). She said she believes the restaurant will bring diversity to the neighborhood, which she supports.

Raymond said his restaurant will be a ‘Ma and Pa joint’ where students and 40-year residents will enjoy themselves. He said he hopes the ‘righteous’ atmosphere will create a sense of ‘escapism’ for his customers.

“Tim and Rob have done a good job with the Brew House; I don’t see why they wouldn’t with the restaurant,? said another Chester Park neighborhood resident.

Timothy Brandon, a Chester Park business owner, said, “I’m not against the restaurant; I’m sure they’ll do a good job. The item in question is if there is enough parking sustained.?

With that said, Board member Hinzman made a suggestion to Raymond and Nelson; “If you would just rearrange the parking lot, you could increase the 12 existing spots to 17 easily.?

After the BZA discussed the simple task of changing the paint lines with Raymond and Nelson, the board members agreed to give the two business men until the 4th of April to make these changes. If the parking situation is permitted, Raymond and Nelson may still have a few battles to win before calling themselves heroes to the many burrito lovers of Duluth.

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