Plans to renovate a second-floor balcony at Green Hill Kitchen were sent back to the drawing board last Thursday after the Planning Board raised concern about what was described as an “incomplete” application.
In February, owner Christoph Mueller submitted an application to remove existing exterior walls and enclose the second-floor balcony to provide more interior space for the restaurant.
But site plans submitted with the application show an existing rear outdoor seating area that was never technically OK’d by the village.
“They did [outdoor seating] during COVID, which I understand, but with absolutely no approval,” said Planning Board member Lily Dougherty-Johnson.
The rear area was previously used as a patio with parking, a dumpster and for deliveries, she said. “It doesn’t seem fair. If every restaurant just started using their parking area as outdoor seating, we would have an issue with that,” she added.
“We can’t separately approve [the] change upstairs without dealing with this issue at the same time,” Planning Board chair Walter Foote added.
In addition to the discrepancy between the application and site plan, questions remain about the total number of seats approved by the county Department of Health, since an increase in diners would translate to more wastewater.
Officials referenced ongoing problems with the restaurant’s sewage system and said data from the health department will help determine whether the infrastructure can accommodate the proposed increase.
According to a planning memo, the previously approved plan allowed 134 indoor seats; the new proposal would call for a 29% increase.
Village planning consultant Laura Feitner Calarco said without that figure from the health department, it’s a “moving target.”
“I cannot advise the Planning Board on how they could consider the impacts of a seating expansion if I don’t know what the health department approved,” she said, despite the prior approval for 134 seats. “The health department could have knocked that down. That could be why they’re having so many issues, for example, with pipes overflowing.”
Project architectural designer Ryan Sidor said an application for a new seating plan has been made to the county health department and they are awaiting a response.
At last Thursday’s meeting, the board opted to close a public hearing that had been left open for several weeks and the applicants moved to withdraw the application. Mr. Sidor and architect Robert Brown said they intend to submit updated plans that address the outdoor seating, dumpster placement and seating totals for future Planning Board consideration.