Rafters permit fate in council’s hands

The Stillwater City Council will decide on a special use permit sought by the owner of Rafters at its Aug. 21 meeting.

Last week’s appeal of Rafters Food and Spirits special use permit request by Stillwater Ward 1 Councilman Menikheim has cast a light on the city’s special use permit process.

City Planner Mike Pogge explained what a special use permit is, how requests are reviewed and who can appeal a permit ruling to the city council.

Most often, Pogge said special use permits go to the city Planning Commission which reviews the requests. A committee meeting is set and members discuss questions, issues and concerns related to the permit. Any conditions needed are addressed, then a report is prepared and presented to the commission.

Rafters owner Larry Cramer said last week that the Planning Commission unanimously approved his special use permit for a rooftop serving area at his business.

Pogge said if someone disagrees with the Planning Commission ruling on a special use permit, they can file an appeal after 10 days and have the permit request to the city council.

“Any individual in the Stillwater area, any resident, can appeal the decision of the planning commission,” Pogge said.

Although some special use permits must go the council, the Rafters’ permit did not need council action because it was simply a restaurant expansion.

Special use permit requests needing council action are sent with a Planning Commission recommendation. The council then approves or denies the requested permit.

“If the council wanted to review all of the special use permits they could. They don’t here, but in other places like Liberty, special use permits must go before council.” Pogge said.

The council has final say about Rafters’ special use permit at their Aug. 21 council meeting. Cramer will learn the fate of his requested permit at that meeting.

Whether the permit is approved or denied, the option exists to appeal the decision to district court, According to Pogge.