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Shady Grove gets variance, ability to rock on

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham

The saga of Shady Grove, the restaurant and sometimes acoustic music venue, seems to have been resolved with a variance granted by the Board of Adjustment on Monday. By allowing the establishment the necessary offsite parking, Shady Grove can now change their designation from a restaurant to a cocktail lounge, enabling them to raise the volume on their outdoor shows from 70 decibels to 85.


In order to change designation, 30 new parking spots needed to be added to the site. Paul Linehan of Land Strategies, Inc. represented Shady Grove and told the board that the site would only fit 11 additional spaces, without tearing down the heritage trees that make the restaurant so distinct.


The approval for offsite parking came with a few caveats, which represented a compromise between the restaurant and neighborhood. Shady Grove agreed to limit alcohol to 50 percent of their sales on average and pledged that the music would be limited to the popular Thursday night acoustic showcase and a few charitable events all of which would end by 10pm. Linehan said the Grove had been “working very cooperatively with the neighborhood group; there’s been a lot of good faith brought to the table.”


The additional parking will be down the street at the bicycle sport shop. Linehan said the restaurant is also investing in professional sound engineers who can help to direct the sound away from the neighborhood.


Lorraine Atherton, co-president of the Zilker Neighborhood Association, spoke as a “neutral” citizen, unopposed to the variance. In a letter to the Board of Adjustment Atherton said, “ZNA does appreciate that the applicant has made real progress in recent negotiations with some of the neighbors who are most affected.” The letter also said that the neighborhood’s priority is maintaining the trees, rather than encouraging the paving for nearby parking lots.


Board Member Jeff Jack, past president of the ZNA, added that he had spoken with the City of Austin’s Integrity Officer about any possible conflict of interest. “He informed me since I had no financial interest in this going one way or another there’s not a cause for recusing myself.”


The board voted unanimously for the variance.

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