Stillwater Planning Commission needs our help

On April 9th, the Stillwater Planning Commission evaluated application No. 2012-08, for a new rooftop bar for Rafters restaurant at 317 South Main Street. The Planning Commission appears to need help in reaching the proper decision.

The applicants propose to open up their roof, which adjoins buildings adjacent by common walls, to public access that includes (and is essentially based upon) drinking. About 90 to 100 people could occupy this space.

As a local business owner, I respect the applicants’ desire to expand their business. But as a citizen and resident, I have other concerns. I frequent local restaurants often and have my share of adult beverages. However the place to grow drinking establishments is not in a 150-year-old historic district.

The idea seems good to only a few people: the owner(s) of Rafters, their consultant(s), and those relative few who might like to enjoy themselves in this new space. The problem is a rooftop dining/drinking arrangement is fraught with a host of problems, most of which fall upon the adjoining property owners, local residents and the city.

The Planning Commission prudently decided to table their decision until their May meeting. But commissioners appear to need help in making their decision. This is where the public comes in. If you feel that this proposal is a good idea for a few, but a bad idea for most, contact the Planning Commission members, and your City Council member.

The Planning Commission, and the City Council, needs to think very carefully about the Rafters proposal. If a bad event occurs, you can be sure that they might (rightfully) be on the hook for the consequences. The city has a duty to use due care and judgment when giving permission for such a proposal. If buildings catch on fire or someone is hurt, then it’s too late to undo the damage.

Tell your Planning Commission members and city council representative that this is just not a good idea. For historic downtown Stillwater, this idea should be a non-starter. Of course, that assumes that the evaluating authority has really looked at all of the issues.

Can we use some common sense and politely decide that this idea would be great, but in a different place?

Patrick Anderson

Resident and Business Owner

Stillwater MN

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