A request for an outdoor dining area adjacent to the high-end restaurant expected to open on the first floor of Warwick Place sometime next year was narrowly shot down by the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night.
The meeting drew a small crowd of abutting residents and business owners to the Selectmen's Meeting Room of Abbot Hall, many of whom were on hand to speak out against the proposed 40-seat outdoor dining area because they feared it would mean loud nights and limited parking.
Local attorney Paul Lynch presented the recently-updated building design, which called for changes to the building's facade, and sought to avoid adding three more parking spaces to the rear of the building to accommodate the additional patrons.
"When we were here for a special permit on the parking, one of the reasons this board determined it was appropriate was because we were providing much more parking than any other (business) in the area," Lynch said. "And also because we directly abut Roundhouse Road, which is owned by the town and has 100 parking spaces."
Among the most vocal opponents to the outdoor dining area was Chip Percy, co-owner of the Three Cod Tavern, who wondered where the additional 40 patrons and restaurant employees were going to park.
"I think it's a wonderful idea, the movie theater and the restaurant, but where do they think they're going to put the extra 40 people? Drive through there on a Friday or Saturday night now and there's no parking for a half-mile" Percy said, adding, "I have tenants there at 275 Washington - how long and how late are they going to be able to serve out there? The noise factor is a real concern."
Also speaking out against the proposal was Petrisse Briel, owner of Bang Tin Gallery, located directly across the street from the 38,000-square-foot building, who said two of her tenants have already moved away because of the noise caused by the building project.
"This is Marblehead. It's not downtown Boston and it's not Lynn and I do think it's a great idea but I think people have to be mindful of where they are putting this," Briel said. "Just because someone can afford a $20 million building in the middle of a tiny little town doesn't mean that everybody that calls it home should be displaced by it."
After unanimously approving changes to the building's facade, board members held a separate vote on the outdoor dining area. The request would have needed four affirmative votes to pass and it was only able to gain the support of three of the board's five members.
Board members Paige Hintlian, Leon Drachman and Bruce Krasker voted in favor of the proposal. Chairman William R. Moriarty and Bob Schaeffner voted against the plan.
Warwick Place is expected to open in early 2013 and will likely be home to a combination movie theater and restaurant, mini-theater for business conferences, a cafe selling breakfast and dessert, a retail establishment and small offices.
Click through the photos attached to this post for a closer look at the building's recently-updated floor plan.