Restaurant fight in River Oaks

January 8, 2009 4:47:45 PM PST
The construction of a new restaurant in the historic River Oaks area is angering a lot of neighbors. They say the restaurant, which is already being built, will bring unwanted noise, traffic and 'visual pollution' to the neighborhood.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

On Thursday afternoon, a hearing was held about it.

"What we're faced with now, is new development," said Janet Moore.

Moore and her neighbor, Don Rumer, don't like what they see going on across the street. As part of the new River Oaks shopping center, Weingarten Realty has built a large second story balcony against city code before getting the proper variance.

"It was never part of the plans, so once we made the issue, we had to force them to stop construction," said Rumer. "They didn't want to stop construction. They sped up construction when we started raising complaints about it."

Homeowners along the stretch of Brentwood haven't been able to say anything because they signed an agreement with Weingarten to keep silent. So they can't complain even though they live directly behind the parking garage.

The rebuilding of a large part of the shopping center has been controversial from the start. So with the balcony already up, Weingarten went to the planning commission Thursday to ask for a retroactive variance.

"At the request of the neighbors, Weingarten has modified the lighting, changed sign location on the western façade, and had an acoustical engineer study the noise potential," said Weingarten representative Mary Lou Henry.

The company says it's willing to meet the homeowners' demands of enclosing the balcony and after two council members showed up to support the developer, the variance was granted. And although many of the homeowners were satisfied with the compromise, at least one was not.

"The granting of this variance is an insult to the integrity and intent of Chapter 42," said frustrated homeowner Tom Horan.

Despite the anger of some, Weingarten got what it wanted and doesn't have to tear down the structure that initially violated city code. And it still has the support of many council members.

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