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City Council’s Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously on Feb. 12 to deny introduction of a request for a special use permit for Rubie’s Restaurant, a type II (generally, fast food) restaurant that would have taken over the former Ramy’s Food at 1723 Simpson St. The vote came after the matter was held in committee on Jan. 22 pending resolution of requirements added by the Zoning Board of Appeals when the application came before that body.

At the Jan. 22 meeting, the presence of glass blocks and burglar bars, as well as some of the financials and a shifting business model put forth by the applicant, Robert Crayton, led to hesitation on the part of the committee.

For the Feb. 12 meeting, a City staff memo said the Zoning Board of Appeals and City staff recommended that the special use be granted, conditioned upon the replacement of the building’s glass block windows with unobstructed transparent glass and removal or iron bars on windows and doors. The memo also said, “The applicant has complied with all zoning requirements and meets all of the standards for a special use of this district.”

 Committee Chair Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, opposed granting a special use. She said, “Special uses are a privilege that City Council grants, so someone can operate a Type II restaurant, in this instance, or build or operate a type of use that we don’t consider normal or permitted in a particular district, and we have fairly high standards for a special use.” 

Under the City’s zoning code, a type II restaurant, categorized as essentially any restaurant that does not have cloth napkins and permanent – as opposed to disposable – tableware, requires a special use, regardless of the location.

“It’s a privilege that someone earns,” continued Ald. Wynne. “It’s not a right, and given Mr. Crayton’s current pending legal proceedings, I do not believe he has earned the right to have a special use to operate a Type II restaurant on Simpson Street. So I cannot support a special use, or this application.”

After making her statement, Ald. Wynne asked if any other members of the Committee wanted to comment. No one did. She called for a vote asking for all those in favor of introducing the request for the special use. No one voted “Aye.” She then called the “No” vote, and all seven aldermen on the Committee voted no.

“The matter fails,” said Ald. Wynne, “and will not move on to City Council.”