In a split decision Wednesday evening, the Camden County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission denied a proposed conditional use permit (CUP) for Paradise Restaurant & Bar, located in the Sunrise Beach area.
P&Z commissioners tied on the CUP that would have allowed Paradise to have outdoor music with an acoustic privacy wall for noise abatement.
Jerry Carroll, Norm Buechting, Rich Pieper and Mickey McDuffey voted against the CUP while Alison Schneider, Nancy Osborne, Dave Delaschmit and Woody Tweed voted for it.
A majority is required for a motion to pass and so the standard motion to approve the application failed.
While the Camden County Commission has final vote on rezoning cases, the P&Z Commission decides CUPs.
The door is still open, however, to some other solution for Paradise. P&Z Administrator Don Hathaway said the CUP could be revisited if additional information is presented, or a new CUP application could be made for some other option.
Paradise owner George Tucker's attorney Greg Williams said additional discussions would be held with the county commission to see about other options. Litigation is also a possibility, Williams said.
Paradise has been at the center of public controversy for more than a month after neighboring residents Richard and Karla Danowsky filed suit in Camden County Circuit Court to stop outdoor music at the lakefront establishment. The lawsuit claimed that Paradise has been in violation of the Lake District Unified Land Use Code by playing outdoor music in B-1 commercial zoning. The suit sought a permanent injunction against the outdoor music to enforce the county's regulations because it claimed the county was failing to prevent zoning violations.
Under previous P&Z administration, Paradise was sent a notice of violation by then-administrator Chris Hall and notices from P&Z attorney Ryan Harding. Under current administrator Don Hathaway, there have been two notices of violation sent to Paradise. These notices occurred over a three-year period.
Hathaway said the CUP application by Paradise was an avenue open to the business to try to come into compliance.
Paradise attorney Greg Williams has maintained that the administrative interpretation of outdoor music in the B-1 zoning changed and that his client, Paradise owner George Tucker, operated under the impression that the 2009/10 expansion and subsequent outdoor music was allowed under the code.
According to Hathaway as well as P&Z chair Jerry Carroll — who was on the board at the time of a past rezoning case by Tucker — it was made clear at that time that outdoor music was not permissable at the business without a CUP.
Several homeowners in the area protested the CUP at the initial P&Z hearing April 17. Upon further questioning by the P&Z Commission at its May 15 meeting, the homeowners — including Del and Karen Moore, Alan and Diane Fugit in addition to the Danowskys and others — said they could not be satisfied unless the music was enclosed. They did not believe the acoustic barrier wall would be sufficient to block the noise from the music.
Page 2 of 2 - Danowsky also presented a letter from a certified appraiser attesting to an approximately 20 percent loss of value in their homes due to outdoor music at Paradise.
Danowsky's lawsuit against Paradise has not yet been disposed. The hearing was scheduled for May 30.