Merits of a proposed brew pub in Gearhart will be considered by the City Council at a public hearing at the Gearhart Fire Station May 3.
An appeal to a Planning Commission decision to grant a conditional use permit to the brew pub was filed early this month by five residents.
The owners of Gearhart Grocery want to convert the business to a cafe and brew pub, but have faced some community opposition.
“The overriding thing is there is not a need for another cafe location, and not just what they are calling a cafe, but a brew pub,” said Jeanne Mark, one of those who signed the appeal. “We have a brew pub less than a mile away. They’re pushing ‘there is a need.’ There is no need.”
Mark and opponents of the plan say the brew pub is contrary to Gearhart’s comprehensive plan.
They say septic facilities are inadequate and the city needs to retain its only grocery store.
“The Planning Commission, as a vote of the majority, believes the cafe that’s coming in met the conditions that were required,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said. “The appeal is based on the fact that people think they did not meet those requirements and there may not be a need for this type of restaurant in town.”
In March, planning commissioners voted 4-3 to OK the transition of Gearhart Grocery at 599 Pacific Way to a brew pub.
The city’s comprehensive plan indicates stores in the city’s central zone should “provide needed supporting services to the locals or resident community,” opponents to the brew pub plan state in the appeal.
“It’s tragic,” Mark said. “It’s a whole sensibility that’s being dismissed. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t replace that.”
The grocery is owned by Molly and Terry Lowenberg of Sum Properties in Seaside.
In submissions to the Planning Commission, they told the city competition outside Gearhart made their business unprofitable. “Understandably people want to keep their market,” Sweet said. “That withstanding, you can’t force someone to keep a business that they don’t want to continue to do.”
The City Council has decided to hear the case on May 3 de novo, “which means all over again,” Sweet said. “It’s another opportunity for someone to make a different decision.”
The decision of the council could be appealed to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals.